Tail wags may be more than dog telling you they’re happy, OSU researcher finds

dog wagging tail

An Oregon State University professor is revealing new findings as to why dogs wag their tails. It may not always be to express happiness.

Taylor Hersh is a post-doctorate researcher for the Marine Mammal Institute at OSU. She’s one of four scientists who published an article in the journal Biology Letters.

Their research found that tail wagging is a result of domestication and it’s a big form of communication.

“When dogs wag their tails more to the right side of their body, it usually means that whatever they’re experiencing or seeing, they want to approach,” Hersh said. “Whereas if they wag their tails more to the left side of their body, it usually means that they’re either more nervous about something or there’s something they want to withdraw from.”

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Here is more from the study’s abstract:

“We suggest two hypotheses to explain its increased occurrence and frequency in dogs compared to other canids. During the domestication process, enhanced rhythmic tail wagging behaviour could have (i) arisen as a by-product of selection for other traits, such as docility and tameness, or (ii) been directly selected by humans, due to our proclivity for rhythmic stimuli.”



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