Why You Should Take A Closer Look At Your Dog’s Wagging Tail

As semi-professional scientists, Eko and I like to stay up on the latest in canine research.  I usually have heard of, or at least thought about, most of the the research I see in the paper.  That’s why I was surprised when I read an article that said dogs indicate their mood by which direction their tail wags.

A 2007 study showed that dogs will wag their tail to their right side for positive emotions and to their left for negative emotions.  Of course I immediately had to go back through my photos to take a look at Eko’s tail.

 

Rhodesian Ridgeback, marking our territory, adventure, dogs, photos, puppy

I don’t have a lot of puppy Eko photos, but the three I do have where he is wagging his tail?  In all of them he is wagging it to his right

 

Rhodesian Ridgeback, marking our territory, adventure, dogs, photos, puppy

I also noticed that before a play pounce, Eko’s tail is generally to the right as well

 

 

Rhodesian Ridgeback, marking our territory, adventure, dogs, photos, puppy

And when I mentioned the word “treats” at the beach? A lick of the lips and a tail wag to the right!

 

 
Rhodesian Ridgeback, marking our territory, adventure, dogs, photos, puppy

Hm, maybe these scientists are on to something

 

A newer study also suggests that dogs can pick up on what direction other dogs are wagging their tails and therefore know what mood those dogs are in.

I also looked at a couple videos where Eko is happy and in both of them his tail wags from the center to his right.  I have never heard of this phenomenon before so I will have to dig deeper and go through some more video.  I am also going to pay more attention to Eko’s tail next time he is nervous or skittish.  Stay tuned for more science!

20 thoughts on “Why You Should Take A Closer Look At Your Dog’s Wagging Tail”

  1. mine do a full side to side – taking just about everything off of any surface in the vicinity -hope that means they are super happy

    Reply
    • I think so, but I noticed with Eko that the big tail swipe always seems to start with the first flick being to his right. Check it out next time the pups are getting riled up.

      Reply
  2. I’m with you all – I never heard that before. All the dogs I have lived with wagged their entire rear ends when happy….. which with dogs is pretty much all the time. My dear departed Old English Sheepdog almost folded herself in half side to side when a car ride was mentioned 🙂 ….. From Eko’s puppy photos it is clear he is holding his tail to the right, maybe that’s what they mean? Dogs do wag, but very differently, when they are anxious and trying to please their pack leader [I’ve seen it with bad owners] and now I wonder if those dogs tails are held to their left sides….. Mmmmm food for thought Will. Please do keep investigating and report back.

    Reply
    • I’m with you here as well – I’ve noticed dogs shaking their tails in all types of ways but never thought to break it down any further. And like all things, I’m sure there are plenty of exceptions to the rule. Though I did notice that when Eko starts one of his big, full, side-to-side wags, it always seems to start on the right.

      Reply
    • Yeah, it’s a lot of fun to think about it. What I thought was most interesting was that other dogs reacted to which side they saw the tail on. Like most things I’m sure there are exceptions to the rule, but still pretty cool stuff to me.

      Reply

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