Dog Has Tail Between Legs and Shaking: What Does It Mean?


If you’ve noticed your dog with their tail between their legs and shaking, it’s important to understand what this behavior could indicate.

Dogs communicate through body language, and their tail position and shaking can be a sign of various emotions or physical discomfort.

In this blog post, we will explore the possible reasons behind a dog having their tail between their legs and shaking, and what you can do to help them.

Why is My Dog Shaking and Keeping Their Tail Between Their Legs?

Fear or Anxiety

One common reason for a dog to have their tail between their legs and shake is fear or anxiety.

Dogs may exhibit this behavior when they encounter something that scares them, such as loud noises, unfamiliar environments, or other dogs.

It’s their way of trying to make themselves appear smaller and less threatening.

If your dog is fearful or anxious, it’s important to provide them with a safe and calm environment and help them gradually overcome their fears through positive reinforcement training.

Pain or Discomfort

Another possible cause for a dog to exhibit this behavior is pain or discomfort.

Dogs may shake and keep their tail tucked between their legs if they are experiencing physical pain, such as an injury or illness.

It could also be a sign of discomfort in a specific body part, such as their tail or hind legs.

If you suspect that your dog is in pain, it’s crucial to consult with your veterinarian to determine the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment.

Submission or Submissiveness

In some cases, a dog may have their tail between their legs and shake as a sign of submission or submissiveness.

This behavior is often seen when a dog is trying to appease a more dominant individual, whether it’s another dog or a human.

It’s their way of showing deference and avoiding potential conflict.

If your dog displays submissive behavior frequently, it’s important to ensure they feel safe and secure in their environment and provide positive reinforcement to boost their confidence.

Cold or Fear of Cold

Dogs may also shake and keep their tail tucked between their legs if they are feeling cold or have a fear of cold temperatures.

Some dog breeds are more sensitive to cold weather than others, and they may exhibit this behavior to conserve body heat.

If you suspect that your dog is cold, provide them with a warm and comfortable environment, and consider using doggy sweaters or jackets to help keep them warm during colder seasons.

Stress or Overstimulation

Stress or overstimulation can also cause a dog to shake and have their tail between their legs.

This can occur in situations where there is excessive noise, crowded spaces, or overwhelming stimuli.

It’s important to recognize your dog’s stress triggers and provide them with a calm and quiet space to relax.

Additionally, gradual desensitization and counterconditioning techniques can help your dog become more comfortable in stressful situations.

What Should I Do If My Dog Has Their Tail Between Their Legs and Is Shaking?

If you notice your dog exhibiting this behavior, it’s essential to assess the situation and determine the underlying cause. Here are some steps you can take to help your dog:

  1. Stay Calm: Dogs are highly perceptive to their owner’s emotions. Stay calm and avoid displaying any signs of anxiety or frustration, as this can further stress your dog.
  2. Provide a Safe Space: Create a quiet and comfortable area where your dog can retreat to when they feel anxious or scared. This can be a designated corner with their bed or crate, away from any potential stressors.
  3. Identify Triggers: Try to identify any specific triggers that may be causing your dog’s fear or anxiety. Once you know what triggers their behavior, you can work on desensitization and counterconditioning techniques to help them overcome their fears.
  4. Consult with a Veterinarian: If you suspect that your dog’s behavior is due to pain or discomfort, it’s crucial to consult with your veterinarian. They can perform a thorough examination and recommend appropriate treatment options.
  5. Consider Professional Help: If your dog’s behavior persists or worsens despite your efforts, consider seeking help from a professional dog trainer or animal behaviorist. They can provide guidance and develop a customized behavior modification plan for your dog.

Remember, every dog is unique, and their behavior can vary based on their individual personality and experiences.

If you’re unsure about your dog’s behavior or need further assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional for guidance.


A dog having their tail between their legs and shaking can indicate fear, anxiety, pain, submission, cold, or stress.

Understanding the underlying cause is crucial in helping your dog feel safe and secure.

By providing a calm environment, identifying triggers, and seeking professional help if needed, you can support your dog and improve their overall well-being.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why is my dog shaking and keeping their tail between their legs after a vet visit?

A: Dogs may shake and keep their tail between their legs after a vet visit due to stress or anxiety caused by the unfamiliar environment, handling, or medical procedures.

Give your dog some time to relax and decompress after the visit.

Q: Can bad teeth in dogs cause them to shake and keep their tail between their legs?

A: Yes, dental issues such as tooth decay, gum disease, or dental infections can cause pain and discomfort, leading to shaking and a tucked tail.

Regular dental care and check-ups are essential to prevent such problems.

Q: How can I help my dog if they are shaking and keeping their tail between their legs due to fear?

A: To help your dog with fear-related shaking, create a safe and calm environment, use positive reinforcement training techniques, and consider consulting with a professional dog trainer or behaviorist for guidance.

Q: Should I punish my dog if they exhibit submissive behavior with a tucked tail and shaking?

A: No, punishing a dog for submissive behavior can worsen their anxiety and fear.

Instead, focus on building their confidence through positive reinforcement training and providing a secure and supportive environment.

Q: Is it normal for dogs to shake and keep their tail between their legs in cold weather?

A: Some dogs may shake and tuck their tail in cold weather as a natural response to conserve body heat.

However, if your dog seems excessively cold or uncomfortable, consider providing them with additional warmth, such as doggy sweaters or jackets.

Q: When should I seek professional help for my dog’s shaking and tail-tucking behavior?

A: If your dog’s behavior persists, worsens, or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it’s advisable to consult with a veterinarian or a professional dog trainer/behaviorist for a thorough evaluation and guidance.

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