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What Your Dog’s Tail Wag Direction Means


Creative Commons License photo credit: kthompsonstudios

Dogs are able to express their emotions just like humans do, only slightly differently.   Instead of a smile or a frown, dogs wag their tails to show what they are feeling.   An interesting fact is that the direction in which your dog’s tail wags can mean certain things.  Dogs have left and right brains that are responsible for movement, emotions, etc.  The left side of their brains affects the right side of their bodies and vice versa.

Italian researchers, Giorgio Vallortigara of the University of Trieste,  Angelo Quaranta and Marcello Siniscalchi of Bari University, came out with a study that said when a dog wags its tail to the right, it is happy, but when it wags its tail to the left it is unhappy or frightened.   The researchers performed tests on 15 female and 15 male dogs, to see how they would react to different stimuli including their owners, a stranger, a cat, and a dominant dog.  Each stimulus got a slightly different reaction, with the owner getting the most tail wag to the right, and the dominant dog getting the most tail wag to the left.

Something fun to think about when you approach your dog next time.  Check out his tail to see which way it’s wagging!  I’m not bragging or anything but mine always wag to the right!


Vanessa Bonnin has a great love and knowledge of animals.  Never knowing a time without a furry (or scaly) friend by her side, she has had several pets including cats, dogs, iguanas, fish, birds, rabbits, and hamsters.  Additionally, she has experience working with sheep, goats, and pigs and someday hopes to start a dairy goat farm.  She and her husband Charlie recently rescued two Border Collie mixes named Jack and Sebastian.   Aside from her passion for animals, Vanessa loves to cook and is currently writing a healthy cookbook.  She maintains a personal blog at

2 comments… add one
  • What if it goes round in circles – as your ‘nephew’, Buckley, does all the time? Maybe that means he is just ecstatic?

  • It sure sounds like wagging bragging to me! Interesting study.

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