Nov 01 2013

Dogs and Their Tail Wags

I usually don’t forward interesting articles, but I thought this was interesting research.  Apparently there is research that happy dogs wag their tail more to the right, while anxious dogs wag it more to the left.  What’s more, dogs who see a happy dog with a right tail wag are very relaxed, while dogs who see a left tail wag get anxious – their heart rate elevates and they show signs of stress.  They say that humans can’t pick up on the very slight difference in side-to-side wagging, but dogs can.  Apparently, when you look at the wag in slow motion, even people can see the difference.

If we can’t read the right/left signal, what then are we to do?

Fortunately, dogs and cats alike display many more obvious signals of happiness and fear than a slight difference in how they wag their tails.  Ear position, tail height (up or down or tucked), body posture, and a few other non-verbal clues can help you determine how an animal is likely to respond.

There are lots of variations on body signals for different moods and emotions, but in general ears up, tail relaxed or wagging, eyes bright and focused on you, and body position forward give off a good vibe.  Ears back or forward, hackles up, body position back, eyes shifty, tail tucked are signs of aggression or fear depending upon the combination.  You won’t see all of these signs of fear or happiness for every dog or cat, but in general it is a good guideline.

That way, you don’t have to scrutinize over right/left wagging 🙂

– Doc Cleland

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