Rated 4.8/5 by parents & students

Left or Right?… Study reveals what a dog expresses by the direction of its tail

The way Fido wags his tail might reveal more about him than you know. Just ask another dog.

Researchers discovered a subtle difference in how dogs wag their tails. When a dog sees something positive, such as its owner, it tends to wags its tail more to its right. The wagging tends to go left when it sees something negative, like an unfamiliar dominant dog.

But now, the same researchers report that other dogs pick up on that difference, and it’s reflected in their behaviour. Experts say the tail-wagging difference appears to be one way that dogs gauge how other dogs will respond to them.

“It’s just fascinating that dogs pick up on it,” said Evan MacLean, of Duke University’s Canine Cognition Centre. For humans, he said, “it’s a difficult thing to see.”

For the experiment, scientists used videos of a dog wagging its tail mostly to one side or the other, or not wagging at all. They showed the videos to 43 dogs, including such breeds as Rottweilers, beagles, boxers, border collies and German shepherds as well as mongrels.

When the dog in the video wagged mostly to its left, the sign of a negative response, their behaviour indicated a higher degree of stress.

Critical thinking challenge: How many ways can a dog communicate with other dogs? How do dogs use their highly-developed sense so smell to communicate? Can dogs communicate with other dogs in more ways than humans?

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top