Dogs Tail Wagging

By Connie Orcutt • Published: February 1st, 2014
Category: Animal Airwaves

There is much more to canine communication than meets the eye. The human eye, that is.

In fact, dogs appear to clue in to canine emotions by catching tail-wagging tips. Laboratory research has shown that dogs become agitated when they see another dog wagging its tail to the left. In contrast, spotting a right-sided wag induces relaxation. Similarly, a dog seeing a happy sight, like its owner, tends to wag its tail to the right. However, seeing a threatening or unfamiliar dog can result in a left-sided wag.

This perceptual imbalance, or asymmetry, may have implications for our relationships with dogs as well. Although our tail-less state leaves us wag-challenged, it’s good to understand we also can communicate with dogs through our body language. If you go near an unfamiliar dog, there might be a “best side” approach that would make a good first impression.