How Dogs Speak With Their Tails

Scientists have discovered that dogs communicate far more information about their emotions to each other with their tails than was previously believed. A recent study has shown that dogs tend to move their tails more to the right or the left depending on how happy or sad they feel.

This emotional signal can also be recognized by other dogs, affecting how the animals respond to each other. Research conducted by neuroscientists at the University of Trento, Italy, showed that dogs’ tails tend to move slightly more to the right if they are happy. If they are experiencing negative emotions, such as feeling threatened, then their tail will move slightly more to the left.

While the subtle bias in movement can be difficult for humans to detect, when video footage of the behavior is slowed down, it becomes more obvious. Dogs, however, seem to be able to pick up on these signals just fine. The researchers found that dogs’ heart rates increased and they showed signs of anxiety

when they saw an unfamiliar dog with its tail wagging slightly to the left. If the dog met a new dog whose tail wagged slightly to the right, then the animals remained calm and showed a relaxed heart rate. Scientists attribute this to a similar function in human brains — the left/right bias of our brains to produce different emotions.

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