Dog Tail Wagging-What Does it Mean?

dog tail wagging what does it mean direction nd speed petrage

Dogs use their tails to communicate a wide range of emotions, both positive and negative. Tail wagging to the left or right side? What’s the difference? A study in the scientific journal Current Biology has determined they both mean very different things.

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Dog Tail Wagging – Left or Right Side of the Body

Similar to humans, dogs seem to use both the left side and right side of their brains and that behavior is indicated by the way their tails wag.

Researchers have found that when dogs wag their tails to the left side when they feel negative emotions and the right side when they feel positive emotions.

In this study, dogs were shown videos of other dogs wagging their tails to right or to the left. Seeing a dog wagging its tail to the left side of the body produced physiological signs of anxiety and targeting responses as well as increased cardiac frequency. These signs are often associated with negative feelings centered in the the right half of the brain (which controls movement to the left side of the dog’s body).

While watching a dog wagging its tail to the right side of the body, dogs remained in a relaxed state without any physiological responses. This behavior is associated with a dog’s perception of something pleasant or familiar. It indicates that the dog is friendly, relaxed, and open to social interaction, all feelings centered in the left side of the brain as the left brain is associated with positive feelings.

Controls tail movement to the RIGHT side of the body associated with POSITIVE EMOTIONS.


Controls tail movement to the LEFT side of the body associated with NEGATIVE EMOTIONS.

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Dog Tail Wagging-Speed and Position of the Tail

According to research, the speed and position of a dog wagging its tail can signify a lot about the dog’s feelings and emotions.

When a dog wags its tail high and rapidly, it is usually an indication of excitement or happiness.

On the other hand, if the tail is held low or between the legs and wagged slowly, it can be a sign of fear or submission. The direction in which the dog’s tail wags can also provide insight into the dog’s emotional state.

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Is it possible for a dog to be wagging their tail but still be unfriendly or aggressive towards people or other animals?

Yes, it is possible for a dog to wag its tail while still being unfriendly or aggressive. A wagging tail can indicate excitement, but it does not always mean the dog is friendly. It’s important to consider other body language and context when determining a dog’s behavior and potential aggression.

Dog Tail Wagging Final Thoughts

Understanding a dog’s tail wagging is crucial for dog owners to decode their pup’s body language and emotional state. A wagging tail is not always a sign of a happy dog; it can convey various feelings, both positive and negative. Recent research suggests that the direction, speed, and height of the wag can provide insights into a dog’s mood. For instance, a high, fast wag with a vertical tail indicates excitement or confidence, while a slow wag with a low tail suggests caution or fear.

It’s important to pay attention to other cues like facial expressions and overall body posture to interpret canine communication accurately.

By being aware of these subtle signals, dog owners can better understand their pet’s emotions and tailor their training and interactions accordingly. Remember, the tail is just one piece of the bigger picture when it comes to deciphering canine body language.

Dog Tail Wagging What Does it Mean Infographic

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