Electromyographic (EMG) activities of three tail muscles, the extensor caudae lateralis (ECL), abductor caudae externus (ACE), and flexor caudae longus (FCL), were recorded bilaterally in seven adult dogs during walking, trotting, and galloping on a treadmill.

Each dog’s movements were recorded with a 16 mm high-speed camera system, and angular movements of the tail were analyzed.

During walking and trotting, reciprocal EMG bursts were observed between right and left tail muscles and corresponded with lateral movements of the tail.

The tonic discharges that were observed in ECL and FCL seemed to maintain the position of the tail.

During galloping, synchronized EMG activity of all tail muscles produced reactive torques to counter those generated by cyclic limb movements and kept the tail in a stable position.

These results suggest that tail movements are important in maintaining body balance during locomotion in the dog.

Wada N., Hori H., Tokuriki M.