That doggy lan­guage far from a tall tail

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS -

LON­DON: When your dog bounds to­wards you with his tail wag­ging fu­ri­ously, you’d nat­u­rally as­sume he was pleased to see you.

Look closer, how­ever, and that tail might be try­ing to tell you some­thing very dif­fer­ent. It seems dogs wag with a cer­tain left or right bias de­pend­ing on the mes­sage they are try­ing to con­vey.

Sci­en­tists now say a wag with a bias to the right sig­ni­fies hap­pi­ness, and a wag to the left, fear. This of­ten goes un­seen by hu­mans. Other dogs, how­ever, are fully tuned in to the sub­tle sig­nalling.

Ear­lier re­search showed that left-brain ac­ti­va­tion pro­duces big­ger wags to the right, and vice versa.

An Ital­ian team showed 43 dogs videos of other dogs wag­ging.

When dogs saw another dog wag­ging more to the left, their heart rates picked up and they be­gan to look anx­ious. Dogs shown wag­ging bi­ased to the right stayed per­fectly re­laxed.

Study leader Dr Gior­gio Val­lor­ti­gara, of the Univer­sity of Trento, said: “The di­rec­tion of tail wag­ging does in fact mat­ter… a dog look­ing to a dog wag­ging with a bias to the right side – and thus show­ing left­hemi­sphere ac­ti­va­tion as if it was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some sort of pos­i­tive/ap­proach re­sponse – would also pro­duce re­laxed re­sponses.

“In con­trast, a dog look­ing to a dog wag­ging with a bias to the left – and thus show­ing right-hemi­sphere ac­ti­va­tion as if it was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing some sort of neg­a­tive/ with­drawal re­sponse – would also pro­duce anx­ious and tar­get­ing re­sponses as well as in­creased car­diac fre­quency. That is amaz­ing, I think.” – Daily Mail

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