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New Research Suggests That Tail Wagging Isn’t Always A Sign Of Happiness In Dogs, And The Direction Of The Movement Can Help You Determine If Your Pup Is Feeling Positive Or Experiencing A Withdrawal Response

“Dogs that had been admitted as strays actually had their cortisol levels go down after they had been pet by a shelter volunteer. The dogs that had been surrendered by owners didn’t show that drop,” Hersh explained.

“In both cases, the dogs were wagging their tails more when they were being petted, but their stress levels changed differently depending on their life history.”

When exploring why domestic dogs began using tail wagging to express emotions, unlike other canines like wolves who rarely do so, Leonetti shared a theory. One possibility is that humans, either consciously or subconsciously, favored dogs that wagged their tails more.

This preference might be due to our natural attraction to rhythmic stimuli, similar to how we enjoy music or the rhythmic sound of a horse’s hooves.

Another theory Leonetti proposed is that in the process of selecting dogs for their tameness and docility, humans might have inadvertently chosen those traits that were genetically linked to tail-wagging behavior.

Regardless, tail wagging undoubtedly plays a critical role in the bond between dogs and humans, and there remains some uncertainty about how this behavior developed and whether dogs have control over these movements.

“We are just scratching the surface,” concluded senior author Andrea Ravignani.

To read the complete findings of the review, which have since been published in Biology Letters, visit the link here.

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