That doggy language far from a tall tail
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