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Which way does your dog's tail wag ?

Posted on Friday, 1 November, 2013 | Comment icon 16 comments

A wagging tail is usually associated with happiness. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Bogdan Giusca

Scientists have been attempting to learn more about the way a dog communicates by wagging its tail.

A dog wagging its tail tends to be associated with a positive mood, but the direction of the wagging can often hold a significance that usually goes unnoticed. A dog that wags its tail predominantly to the right is usually exhibiting happiness, whereas tail wagging oriented towards the left can mean that the dog is anxious or nervous.

Scientists conducted a series of experiments to help them understand this behavior and to see whether dogs themselves are able to pick up on the tail movements of other dogs. To do this they showed a number of dogs some videos of other dogs and observed how they responded.

During the testing dogs who were shown a video of a dog wagging its tail to the right appeared to remain happy and relaxed while those shown a video of a dog wagging its tail to the left seemed to become anxious.

Neuroscientist Prof Georgio Vallortigara concluded that rather than intentionally communicating through tail movements, dogs had instead learned from experience what movements to associate with positive and negative behaviors.

"If you have several meetings with other dogs, and frequently their tail wagging one way is associated with a more friendly behavior, and the right side is producing a less friendly behavior, you respond on the basis of that experience," he said.

Source: BBC News | Comments (16)

Tags: Dog

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #7 Posted by Duchess Gummybuns on 1 November, 2013, 19:52
My dog's tail wags in a circle. He's learned how to use it for flying. If he comes in my room flying around fowling on my bed one more time, I swear to Cthulu...
Comment icon #8 Posted by pallidin on 1 November, 2013, 20:10
Well, of course not. However, learning more about the behavior of our pets, I suppose, is a good thing and worthy of research. Recall how one can tell if some wild animals are getting ready to attack, by virtue of general posture, ear's up or down, etc... This could not have been done without research.
Comment icon #9 Posted by mysticwerewolf on 2 November, 2013, 5:21
before he passed my friend to the left usually wagged his tail up ^ because down was usually hitting the couch or the floor or the grass or something, but when he was standing the tail would wag in a circle and being as while he was awake and standing it was always wagging it would be useless try to tell which way it was pointed. sometimes it even wagged in his sleep.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Likely Guy on 2 November, 2013, 5:24
No, all dogs are different.
Comment icon #11 Posted by spud the mackem on 2 November, 2013, 8:36
life must be tough for Boxers haha
Comment icon #12 Posted by TopToffee on 2 November, 2013, 9:17
What a lovely looking lad.Its terrible to lose them.
Comment icon #13 Posted by travelnjones on 4 November, 2013, 23:35
When my dog wags his tail one direction he wags it back the other so i cant ever tell which direction he wags. Please help!
Comment icon #14 Posted by Controller Junkie on 18 November, 2013, 2:03
Yeah i have pittbulls and uhh the wag there tails back and forth both directions unless i observe the instant they start... nevermind looks all the same to me as far as which direction. I get like fast or excited tail wags but different directions nope its always left and right, never like north and south like smacking there heads and then bac down.Lol srry funny mental pic...
Comment icon #15 Posted by MissMelsWell on 18 November, 2013, 2:59
My dog doesn't wag her tail... her tail wags her. LOL. She's a wiggly butt. It's chaos.
Comment icon #16 Posted by Child of Bast on 18 November, 2013, 22:05

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