Most of us try to interpret what our dogs are saying by looking at their body language. If your dog’s tail is up, we know they are confident or on alert. If their tail is lowered, it generally means the dog is afraid. And when we see a dog wagging its tail, we pretty much equate that with a happy dog. However, it turns out that a dog’s tail is more expressive then we think. Watch your dog when he wags his tail. Does he wag more to the left or right? You might think it doesn’t matter, but which side your dog wags his tail might reveal something about him.

A few years ago, researchers discovered that there’s a subtle difference with how dogs wag their tails. When a dog sees something positive, like their owner, they wag more to the right. If they see something unfamiliar, or something negative, they tend to wag to the left. A recent study conducted by the Center for Mind/Brain Sciences of the University of Trento in Italy, reported that other dogs pick up on this difference in wags. Researchers showed how the different wagging is reflected in a dog’s behavior and even heart rate. Experts say the tail-wagging difference appears to be one way that dogs gauge how other dogs will respond to them.

You might wonder how researchers picked up on this subtlety. For the study, more than 40 dogs were outfitted with a vest that monitored their heart rates, and they were shown videos of other dogs either wagging their tails to the left or to the right. What the researchers found was that the dogs who watched left-side tail wagging appeared more anxious and their heart rate sped up, but the dogs who watched dogs wag their tail to the right stayed cool; they even began to approach the dog on the screen, suggesting they saw the right-side wagging as a signal of companionship, the researchers said.

Experts think this wagging difference may not play a major role in your dog’s relationship with other dogs, but they still find it interesting that dogs can pick up on the subtlety when watching other dogs. And if I were you, I’d be watching to make sure my dog wags his tail to the right when he greets you!


Adoptable Pet of the Week

Chiquita is a sweet, gentle, beautiful Pit Bull mix who was abandoned at the Santa Barbara County animal services shelter. Chiquita is very sweet, gentle, well behaved, and has a nice easygoing energy level. She is spayed, about 3 ½ years old, and weighs about 53 lbs. Chiquita loves being a companion dog and she loves riding in the car. She enjoys the company of other dogs and would likely be able to live with a cat. Chiquita had really nasty eye mass when she arrived at the shelter, but she has since had surgery provided by K-9 PALS to remove it, and she is healing up nicely now. Chiquita is just waiting for a kind and loving person or family to adopt her and give her the good life and forever home that she very much deserves.

K-9 PALS (K-9 Placement and Assistance League, Inc.) is an all-volunteer nonprofit 501C3 no-kill organization. K-9 PALS provides veterinary care, training, rescue, foster, adoption, and advocacy for homeless and abandoned dogs from Santa Barbara County shelters and other shelters in central and southern California. All K-9 PALS donations go directly to benefit the dogs, to save lives and reduce the number of abandoned and homeless dogs in shelters.

K-9 PALS has monthly Adoption & Community Outreach events every First Saturday at Pet House, monthly adoption days at Petco 5 Points, and other special adoption events throughout the year. Check K-9 PALS website or Facebook page for events.

K-9 PALS provides four free dog behavior-training sessions for people who have adopted a dog from any shelter, rescue group, or humane society. So when you adopt a dog, contact K-9 PALS if you want to take advantage of this great offer.

If you are not looking to adopt, consider being a donor or volunteer for K-9 PALS to help us in our mission to provide care and services for homeless and abandoned dogs in our communities.

For information about adoption for Chiquita call Animal Services at 805-681-5285, and information about K-9 PALS, call 805-570-0415 or email To view all dogs for adoption from K-9 PALS, and courtesy posts for dogs for adoption from shelters and other rescue groups, visit the K-9 PALS website at .

For more information about K-9 PALS go to , or K-9 PALS on facebook. Donations are gratefully accepted through PayPal, or to K-9 PALS P.O. Box 60755 Santa Barbara, CA 93160-0755.

Lisa Acho Remorenko is executive director of Animal Adoption Solutions,


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