Just because your dog wags his tail doesn't necessarily mean he is happy or excited; his tell "tail" is actually his way of communicating, and that's for humans to interpret, reports LiveScience.com.
A wagging tail therefore does not mean, "Come pet me." Rather the position of the dog's tail is a better indication of a dog's mood, his receptiveness, and his attitude towards humans and other dogs. Taking into account the natural position of a dog's tail, of course depends on the breed; shih tzus curl their tails over their backs, greyhounds relax their tails slightly between their legs, while German shepherds hang their tails gracefully near their heels.
Nervous and submissive dogs will lower their tails or tuck them between their legs if they're scared. A vertical tail is indicative of an aggressive dog while a straight out tail is a sign of curiosity.
Now to get to the mystery of the wagging tail. In a study done by Giorgio Vallortigara of the University of Trento in Italy and reported in Current Biology, dogs wagging their tails to the right indicated positive feelings like the way a dog feels when he sees his human, while the wagging to the left is a significant sign of negative emotions if confronted by an unfamiliar dog.
To test this theory, 43 dogs were dressed in small vests which monitored their heart rates. The dogs were then exposed to images removing all stimuli except for dogs' wagging tails. The dogs watching tails wagging to the right remained calm and relaxed, however the left wagging tails made the test dogs' heartbeats increase and made them appear anxious.
When a remote control remote of a dog was used in subsequent experiments, the dogs were friendlier to the robotic dog with his tail wagging to the right.
"The finding that dogs are sensitive to the asymmetric tail expressions of other dogs supports the hypothesis of a link between brain asymmetry and social behavior and may prove useful to canine animal welfare theory and practice," stated the study.
So pay attention to the way your dog wags his tail, and may the tails of all rescued and shelter dogs wag to the right.
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