Your dog’s wagging tail can reveal its emotionsKeith
The way your dog wags its tail may reveal how it is feeling, as per new research.
Dog owners have always believed that when their pet’s tail is wagging, it is a sign of contentment and happiness.
Scientists have discovered, however, that dogs communicate far more information about their emotions to each other with their tails than was previously recognised.
A new study has shown that dogs tend to move their tails more to the right or to the left depending on how happy or sad they feel.
This emotional signal can also be recognised by other dogs, affecting how the animals respond to each other.
Research, conducted by neuroscientists at an Italian University, showed that the animals’ tails tend to move slightly more to the right if they are happy.
If they are experiencing negative emotions, such as feeling threatened, then their tail will move slightly more to the left.
While the subtle bias in movement can be difficult for humans to detect, when video footage of the behaviour is slowed down it becomes more obvious.
Dogs, however, seem to be able to pick up on these signals.
If the dog met a strange dog whose tail wagged slightly to the right, then the animals remained calm and showed a relaxed heart rate.
Professor Giorgio Vallortigara, who led the research at the Centre for Brain Sciences at the University of Trento, said: “We know from neurological studies in humans that the left and right hemispheres in the brain produce different emotional responses.
“In dogs, single organs like the tongue or tail is controlled by both sides of the brain. There can be competition and dominance between these two sides.
“When they move their tail, it is more bias to the left or to the right depending on which side of the brain is more dominant at the time.
“It seems dogs pick up on this when they meet other dogs and it forms a type of communication between them.”