How To ‘Read’ Your Dog’s Tail-Wagging Behavior

by Lynnette

Dog Communication, Humanizing Dogs

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two-dogs-wagging-tails.jpg Is your dog a rightie or a leftie?

We’re not talking about paw-tendencies here. We’re talking about tail wagging.

Turns out, you can learn a lot from your dog about the way he wags his tail!

Consider this yet another form of “dog speak”.

A study describing the phenomenon “Asymmetric tail-wagging responses by dogs to different emotive stimuli” appeared in the March 20 issue of Current Biology. The authors are Giorgio Vallortigara, a neuroscientist at the University of Trieste in Italy, and two veterinarians, Angelo Quaranta and Marcello Siniscalchi, at the University of Bari, also in Italy. Source

They say that the way a dog wags its tail is similar to the way humans use the right side vs the left side of their brains.

A dog wags its tail to the left when they are fearful or anxious.

A dog wags its tail to the right when they are attracted to something or happy.

This tail wagging behavior suggests that the muscles in the right side of the tail reflect positive emotions while the muscles in the left side express negative ones. Source

tail-wagging-right-left-degrees.jpg

diagram via The Center for Neuroscience/University of Trieste

Read more about the details of the study here.

Check out this informative overhead video of a dog wagging its tail at different times. (It’s easier to see right vs left tail-wagging behavior this way.)