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A dog's tail can tell you a lot more than you might think

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A dog's tail can tell you a lot more than you might think

A dog’s tail can tell you a lot more than you might think.

Is it wagging to the left?

Or is it wagging to the right?

“The direction of tail wagging does in fact matter,” said Giorgio Vallortigara, a neuroscience professor at the University of Trento in Italy, according to the Los Angeles Times.

According to Professor Vallortigara, the way the tail is wagging can tell you a lot about a dog’s state of mind – whether you’re a human or another dog.

“It’s just fascinating that dogs pick up on it (as well),” said Evan McLean, the co-director of Duke University’s Canine Cognition Center in Durham, North Carolina.

(“Cognition” means the act or process of knowing something.)

What’s the difference between a left wag and a right wag?

Professor Vallortigara and his colleagues reportedly studied 43 dogs of various breeds – German shepherds, Rottweilers, beagles, boxers, border collies and some mutts, according to the Associated Press.

According to the researchers, if a dog wags its tail to the left, it’s feeling anxious or nervous.

The reason could be an unfamiliar or dangerous situation, an unfamiliar person — or an unfamiliar and possibly threatening dog.

But if the tail is wagging to the right, it means the dog is feeling relaxed and approachable, according to the experts.

“The tail is a very important signal,” said Thomas Reimchen, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, in an interview with National Geographic News.  “There is a lot of visual information that dogs use when interacting with each other.”

How did the scientists figure all this stuff out?

They had the dogs in their study watch videotapes of other dogs.

When the dog on the tape wagged its tail to the right, they say the other dogs remained calm and cool.

But when the dog on the tape wagged its tail to the left, the other dogs got anxious.

“That is amazing, I think,” Professor Vallortigara said, according to the Times.

The researchers are still not exactly sure if the direction of the tail wag is something the dog does consciously.

They suspect that it might be something the dog does without even thinking about it – kind of like when you get goose bumps if something scares or startles you.

They reportedly plan to do more research, to get more insight into what dogs are thinking and feeling while they’re wagging.

As Reimchen told National Geographic, “I’m not going to be surprised if we find all sorts of really interesting processes that nobody has ever seen before.”



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