Those who love them all agree: Dogs are amazing animals. Not only are they capable of adapting to life with people, they have skills and abilities that are inconceivable to humans. From their fantastically sensitive noses to their keen intelligence, dogs find ways to thrill and stagger the imagination.
Dogs' physical capabilities are one of the many aspects of the species that continually amaze. With the proliferation of fast-paced canine sports and better camera technology, we now have many incredible images of our dogs running, jumping, twisting and turning with great speed and efficiency. These pictures show how dogs use their bodies to perform bewildering physical feats. These images allow us to learn many things about our beloved dogs, including how dogs use their tails to help them move more quickly and fluently.
When dogs move, they use their tails as a type of rudder to help with balance. For instance, when a dog needs to slow, they will throw their tails up. When a dog needs to accelerate or elevate, their tails will be lowered. When a dog needs to balance, the tail may be thrown out to one side or the other.
Let's look at various photos to examine how dogs use their tails to help them navigate in the sport of dog agility.
The Tail Used for Balance
In the photos above, the photographer catches a dramatic near disaster. Here the author's Sheltie loses balance on the dogwalk and skillfully uses his body to help him reach a safe landing.
In the first photo, you can see Aslan has his tail in the lowered position to help him elevate quickly up the dogwalk ramp.
In the second photo, you see Aslan has taken a misstep. His right rear foot is barely on the dogwalk. His tail is raised and moving to the left to attempt to help him regain balance on the narrow surface. His face registers worry and concentration.
In the third photo, both of his right paws have missed the dogwalk. His tail appears to be down and even gripping the dogwalk in an attempt to keep him from falling. It is unknown if this is indeed his purpose, but he is attempting to use his tail to help him maintain balance and safety. His focus is straight ahead and down at his target - a tunnel running under the dogwalk.
In the fourth photo, we can see his right feet are back up on the dogwalk. He has lowered his center of gravity, and his tail is whipping back again for balance as his he fights the forces of gravity and momentum for control. His focus remains very sharply pointed at the tunnel under the dogwalk.
In the last of the series, we can see him safely jumping onto the soft surface of the green and yellow tunnel. Because of his skill at manipulating his body and his tail to reach a safe landing, he only suffered some minor muscle soreness in the scary accident.
It is fascinating to see Aslan working his body, including his tail, in the above series of photographs. The role the tail plays in balance is plainly seen in these well-captured photos.