Right, left makes a difference in tail wag

March 25, 2007

Italian researchers say that dogs' tail wagging sends a different message depending on the direction of the wag.

By examining dogs' interactions with people and other animals, the scientists found that a dog wags its tail to the right when it spots someone or something familiar and to the left when it feels threatened, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Giorgio Vallortigara of the University of Trieste and Angelo Quaranta and Marcello Siniscalchi of Bari University studied dogs with their owners, human strangers, cats and Belgian shepherd malinois, a large German shepherd-like dog that smaller dogs might find threatening.

The study suggests that in dogs, as in humans, the left side of the brain is involved in signaling to approach something while the right side advises retreat.

"Tail wagging is an important emotional response," Vallortigara said.

The study has been published in Current Biology.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

Explore further: Who's top dog? New research sorts dominant and submissive canine poses

Related Stories

Stress 'sweet spot' differs for mellow vs. hyper dogs

July 21, 2015

People aren't the only ones who perform better on tests or athletic events when they are just a little bit nervous—dogs do too. But in dogs as in people, the right amount of stress depends on disposition.

Animals enliven human language

April 13, 2015

When Debra Hawhee reads Mother Goose and Aesop's Fables to her 5-year-old daughter, she hears in them the usual social lessons—and an additional layer of meaning besides.

Recommended for you

The dark side of Nobel prizewinning research

October 4, 2015

Think of the Nobel prizes and you think of groundbreaking research bettering mankind, but the awards have also honoured some quite unhumanitarian inventions such as chemical weapons, DDT and lobotomies.

Internet giants race to faster mobile news apps

October 4, 2015

US tech giants are turning to the news in their competition for mobile users, developing new, faster ways to deliver content, but the benefits for struggling media outlets remain unclear.

Trade in invasive plants is blossoming

October 3, 2015

Every day, hundreds of different plant species—many of them listed as invasive—are traded online worldwide on auction platforms. This exacerbates the problem of uncontrollable biological invasions.

Fusion reactors 'economically viable' say experts

October 2, 2015

Fusion reactors could become an economically viable means of generating electricity within a few decades, and policy makers should start planning to build them as a replacement for conventional nuclear power stations, according ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.