Direction Of Tail Wag Means Different Things To A Dog

November 1, 2013


A dog that sees another dog's tail wagging asymmetrically to the left or right elicits a different response in the dog that sees it. In a recent study, researchers found if a dog sees another's tail wagging to the right, the dog responded calmly. If it saw it wagging to the left, its heart rate increases and got anxious. If it saw it chasing its own tail, it felt sorry for the dog the same way you would a stupid younger brother.

Earlier, the same research team discovered that dogs wag to the right when they're happy, like seeing their owners, and to the left when they're feeling stressed or anxious (like seeing a dog they're hesitant about). Their prior study showed that left-brain activation produced a wag to the right, while right-brain activation produced a wag to the left -- a consequence of left/right asymmetric functionality in the brain.

Honestly, I'm just surprised dogs are smart enough to notice what side another dog's tail is wagging towards. Hell, I'm human and I can barely tell my left from my right half the time. "Lift your left arm." *lifts* "That was a leg." Dammit, let me try again.

Hit the jump for a video showing the two different wags, then go home and dog-whisper.

Thanks to Carolyn, who's concluded cat tail wagging mean absolutely nothing whatsoever.

  • FeoMatteo

    And the dog that has no the hell does he 'splain himself??

  • Sebastian Müller

    does anyone know wich breed of dog is on the TOP ?

  • Bryce

    It is an Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler variety as Spudly commented), actually both are ACDs but the one wearing the other as a hat is a Red Heeler. I have a Blue, they are very hyper but very loyal working dogs: they always want something to do. They are lovable but stubborn as hell. You need to train them from day one as a puppy and never stop training them, don't ever let them get away with something (as soon as they see they can get away with not doing what you tell them, they will disobey you on purpose in the future). Definitely not a city dog, needs lots of exercise and play time; they are very agile dogs.

  • Spudly

    This dog is called the Blue Heeler. It is an Australian breed

  • Sebastian Müller


  • Beanhimself

    I once dog sat for a neighbor. I was getting ready to take a shower when I realized I had left the peanut butter out. I dropped my pants picked up the peanut butter then turned around the dog made eye contact with me, and the the jar of peanut butter. He than began to shake violently and dove behind the couch. His tail didn't wag much at all really just went in between his legs. I wonder what that means?

  • Dinosaur Rex

    I came here for the dogs picture :D

  • allergicturtle

    me too lol

  • erkurita

    So, a one-sided tail wag, a still image and a mirrored of said tail wag constitutes the basis of an "experimental procedure for use in a peer-reviewed paper"?


  • just1nw

    I love that they felt the need to illustrate what that dog not wagging its tail looked like, just in case we didn't know.

  • grimbldoo

    This brings me back a bit, I remember reading an article about this in elementary school.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Previous Post
Next Post