The Wag of a Tail Can Tell Much of the Story

Research shows how a dog wags its tail says more than we first imagined

Understanding the wag of a tail may be able to help improve ownership of dogs and how humans understand their best friends, according to new research. According to the study, tail wagging is one of the more meaningful signals a dog can give, even more so than previously thought.

The differences in tail wags can mean the important difference in emotional responses from peers, the study found. When a canine sees another dog swing its tail toward the right side of its body,it is more often than not done in a positive fashion, and it keeps the animal relaxed. Dogs that wage to the left side of the body appear to induce some level of stress occurred to researchers.

For the study, a group looked at over 40 dogs across various breeds. The animals were then given the vest that monitored the heart rates and were placed in front of videos that showed various wagging from other dogs.

Pets who wagged on the left said created an anxiety amongst the researched dogs, according to research. The dogs’ heart rates were often accelerated when such waging occurred. When the shown visuals had a dog wagging to the right, the subjects were more calm, and also were more likely to approach the screen. This points to the wag being a sign of a form of friendship. Or at least it points to right-side wagging as non-confrontational.

Just like the right and left side of one’s own brain, animal behaviors and controls are handled by separate sections of the mind. It may simply be that there is a right/left disparity in queue that signifies to other animals when the dog is happy or anxious.

study researcher of the Center for Mind/Brain Sciences of the University of Trento in Italy, Giorgio Vallortigara, stated “In other words, a dog looking to a dog wagging with a bias to the right side — and thus showing left-hemisphere activation as if it was experiencing some sort of positive/approach response — would also produce relaxed responses,” Vallortigara said in a statement.


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