There is a belief that dogs wag their tail simply out of reflex. Whether they are excited at something or find something interesting or even nothing at all, dogs wave their tails left and right as if an automated mechanism.

Recent studies, however, find that—depending on where the dog’s tail is pointing—a simple “tail-wag” may actually mean more than just a “knee-jerk reflex” to our beloved canines, especially in response to their peers.

According to the findings, when a dog’s tail is moved and pointed rightwards, this implies that the dog is relaxed as if though seeing an animal friend. Conversely, when the dog’s tail is moved and pointing leftwards, it suggests that the dog is feeling stressed as if though seeing another creature that is hard to get along with, say a larger and grumpy dog.

But, of course, discoveries such as of this nature does not happen without a carefully planned experiment where deductions can be derived. To draw solid conclusions as to whether or not the direction where a dog’s tail is pointed at as it wags has any significant meaning, the experiment involved 43 domesticated dogs of varying breeds.

In order to keep a more authentic information based on the experiment, the researchers equipped each dog with a vest which actively monitors their heart rate, whose variation signifies an emotional impact to the pet, and a video which displays other dogs wagging their tails on two opposing directions: left and right.

Interestingly, when a dog sees a fellow canine wag its tail to the left, the viewing dog exhibit an increase in the heart rate and is seemingly anxious, said the researcher. Conversely, when a dog sees another dog wagging its tail on the right, the viewing dog appear relaxed and even show approachable behavior towards the viewed dog as if signaling a sense of companionship between the two, the researcher added.

But while it is easy for us humans to dismiss the idea that the wagging of dog’s tail in either direction is a means of a cryptic dog language, researchers, however, do not believe that to be the case.

According to the researchers, the dog’s reaction to the direction where the tail is pointed and wagging may actually just elicit an automatic response or reflex commensurate to the perceiving dog’s different hemisphere of their brain.

Study researcher Giorgio Vallortigara of the Center for Mind/Brain Sciences of the University of Trento in Italy relates to the notion with that of us humans where the right and left hemisphere is believed to evoke different human functionality.

This implies that, if a dog is biased towards a certain direction, the dog itself is also inclined to arouse a response tantamount to that direction.

For example, if the dog is quite biased towards seeing another dog’s tail at the right direction, then that dog has the proclivity to feel relaxed or rather optimistic. The same is also true when the dog is more centered towards seeing a dog’s tail to the left which thus makes the dog feel more anxious, essentially akin to being a cynic.


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