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 Post subject: Interesting Article on Tail Wagging in Psychology Today
PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 6:37 pm 
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And another reason why not to dock cocker's tails.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/can ... tific-data

What a Dog’s Tail Wags Really Mean: Some New Scientific Data

Specific tail wags provide information about dogs’ emotional state.

Published on December 5, 2011 by Stanley Coren, Ph.D., F.R.S.C. in Canine Corner

Science is always providing new information that allows us to interpret the behaviors of dogs, or to reinterpret behaviors which we thought we understood very well-such as the meaning of a dog's tail wagging.

Perhaps the most common misinterpretation of dogs is the myth that a dog wagging its tail is happy and friendly. While some wags are indeed associated with happiness, others can mean fear, insecurity, a social challenge or even a warning that if you approach, you are apt to be bitten.

In some ways, tail wagging serves the same communication functions as a human smile, a polite greeting or a nod of recognition. Smiles are social signals and are thus reserved mostly for situations where somebody is around to see them. For dogs, the wag seems to have the same properties.

Since tail wagging is meant as signal a dog will only wag its tail when other living beings are around-e.g. a person, another dog, a cat, a horse or perhaps a ball of lint that is moved by a breeze and might seem alive. When the dog is by itself, it will not give its typical tail wags, in the same way people do not talk to walls.

Like any other language, tail wags have a vocabulary and grammar that needs to be understood. Up to now scientists focused on two major sources of information, namely the tail's pattern of movement and its position. However new data adds a third important dimension to understanding the language of the canine tail.

Movement is a very important aspect of the signal. Dogs' eyes are much more sensitive to movement than they are to details or colors, so a moving tail is very visible to other dogs. Evolution has made tails even more visible, such as tails with a light or dark tip, a lighter underside or a bushy shape.

The tail's position-specifically, the height at which it is held-can be considered a sort of emotional meter. A middle height suggests the dog is relaxed. If the tail is held horizontally, the dog is attentive and alert. As the tail position moves further up, it is a sign the dog is becoming more threatening, with a vertical tail being a clearly dominant signal meaning, "I'm boss around here," or even a warning, "Back off or suffer the consequences."

As the tail position drops lower, it is a sign the dog is becoming more submissive, is worried or feels poorly. The extreme expression is the tail tucked under the body, which is a sign of fear, meaning, "Please don't hurt me."

Just as there are different dialects to a human language, such as a southern drawl or a New England twang, there are also dialects in dogs' tail language. Different breeds carry their tails at different heights, from the natural nearly vertical position common to Beagles and many Terriers to the low-slung tails of Greyhounds and Whippets. All positions should be read relative to the average position where the individual dog normally holds it tail.

Movements give additional meaning to the signals. The speed of the wag indicates how excited the dog is. Meanwhile, the breadth of each tail sweep reveals whether the dog's emotional state is positive or negative, independent from the level of excitement.

As a result, there are many combinations, including the following common tail movements:

● A slight wag-with each swing of only small breadth-is usually seen during greetings as a tentative "Hello there," or a hopeful "I'm here."

● A broad wag is friendly; "I am not challenging or threatening you." This can also mean, "I'm pleased," which is the closest to the popular concept of the happiness wag, especially if the tail seems to drag the hips with it.

● A slow wag with tail at 'half-mast' is less social than most other tail signals. Generally speaking, slow wags with the tail in neither a particularly dominant (high) nor a submissive (low) position are signs of insecurity.

● Tiny, high-speed movements that give the impression of the tail vibrating are signs the dog is about to do something-usually run or fight usually. If the tail is held high while vibrating, it is most likely an active threat.

We can now add another newly discovered, feature of dog tail language that may surprise attentive pet owners as much as it surprised scientists like me. It now appears that when dogs feel generally positive about something or someone, their tails wag more to the right side of their rear ends, and when they have negative feelings, their tail wagging is biased to the left.

Giorgio Vallortigara, a neuroscientist at the University of Trieste in Italy, and two veterinarians, Angelo Quaranta and Marcello Siniscalchi, at the University of Bari published a paper describing this phenomenon in the journal Current Biology. The researchers recruited 30 family pets of mixed breed and placed them in a cage equipped with cameras that precisely tracked the angles of their tail wags. Then they were shown four stimuli in the front of the cage: their owner; an unfamiliar human; a cat; and an unfamiliar, dominant dog.

When the dogs saw their owners, their tails all wagged vigorously with a bias to the right side of their bodies, while an unfamiliar human caused their tails to wag moderately to the right. Looking at the cat, the dogs' tails again wagged more to the right but more slowly and with restrained movements. However the sight of an aggressive, unfamiliar dog caused their tails to wag with a bias to the left side of their bodies.

It is important to understand that we are talking about the dog's left or right viewed from the rear as if you are facing in the direction the dog is viewing. That means that if you are facing the dog and drew an imaginary line down the middle of his back that positive right-sided signal would appear as tail swings mostly curving to your left.

This is not as strange a finding as you might think at first. Research has shown that in many animals, including birds, frogs, monkeys and humans, the left brain specializes in behaviors involving what the scientists call approach and serenity. In humans, that means the left brain is associated with positive feelings, like love, a sense of attachment, a feeling of safety and calm. It is also associated with physiological markers, like a slow heart rate. Contrast this to the right brain which specializes in behaviors involving withdrawal and energy expenditure. In humans, these behaviors, like fleeing, are associated with feelings like fear and depression. Physiological signals include a rapid heart rate and the shutdown of the digestive system.

Since the left brain controls the right side of the body and the right brain controls the left side of the body, activity in one half of the brain shows up as movements on the opposite side of the body. For instance chicks prefer to use their left eye to search for food (approach behavior) and right eye to watch for predators overhead (avoidance). In humans, the muscles on the right side of the face tend to reflect happiness (left brain) whereas muscles on the left side of the face reflect unhappiness (right brain). So now we can add to this that positive feelings pull a dog's tail to the right and negative feelings pull it to the left.

Unfortunately, if your dog's tail is docked to a short stub it is going to greatly reduce your ability to spot this signal and deduce what your dog is feeling at the moment.

Stanley Coren is the author of many books including: Born to Bark, The Modern Dog, Why Do Dogs Have Wet Noses? The Pawprints of History, How Dogs Think, How To Speak Dog, Why We Love the Dogs We Do, What Do Dogs Know? The Intelligence of Dogs, Why Does My Dog Act That Way? Understanding Dogs for Dummies, Sleep Thieves, The Left-hander Syndrome


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Article on Tail Wagging in Psychology Today
PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2012 9:31 pm 
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I still love my nubbies

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Article on Tail Wagging in Psychology Today
PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2012 4:18 am 
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When Gromit wags her nubbie, her whole back end joins in the waggle-fest! There's no doubt that she is expressing pure Cocker merriment.

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Article on Tail Wagging in Psychology Today
PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2012 3:39 pm 
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I would never swap my cockers' long tails for docked ones. They have very expressive tails and they are very beautiful too. :love

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Article on Tail Wagging in Psychology Today
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 9:21 am 
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I have never seen a non stubbied cocker :shock:

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Article on Tail Wagging in Psychology Today
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 9:42 am 
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QueenBecka wrote:
I have never seen a non stubbied cocker :shock:



Undocked cockers are becoming more common in my area. They have nice tails, long and plumed like a setter's. I still prefer a nubbie personally but I do understand why some people feel tail docking is cruel.

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Article on Tail Wagging in Psychology Today
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 9:49 am 
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Holly wrote:
QueenBecka wrote:
I have never seen a non stubbied cocker :shock:



Undocked cockers are becoming more common in my area. They have nice tails, long and plumed like a setter's. I still prefer a nubbie personally but I do understand why some people feel tail docking is cruel.


It does sound pretty, but I like the docked tail, too.
I wouldn't mind one that wasn't, but I like them in stubby form!

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Article on Tail Wagging in Psychology Today
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:06 pm 
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To cut or not to cut, I like the cut.

I was at grandpa's house a male quail was up in the tree like a scout of his flock of birds. He was calling out to his flock I thought the call would be it's safe, it's safe to come out.

The bird book said he was calling out where are you, where are you.

A breeder in Oregon was telling me the same thing about the operation of tail height, or position and wag. Right on the money who needs a: Stanley Coren, Ph.D., F.R.S.C. in Canine Corner.

A tail, ears, and possible hair on the spine are all signs of warnings. Ears warning like a cat as the upright ears would be the first warning sign on those dogs. This from a dog walker.


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Article on Tail Wagging in Psychology Today
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:15 pm 
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Joe in North Bay Ca wrote:
To cut or not to cut, I like the cut.

I was at grandpa's house a male quail was up in the tree like a scout of his flock of birds. He was calling out to his flock I thought the call would be it's safe, it's safe to come out.

The bird book said he was calling out where are you, where are you.

A breeder in Oregon was telling me the same thing about the operation of tail height, or position and wag. Right on the money who needs a: Stanley Coren, Ph.D., F.R.S.C. in Canine Corner.

A tail, ears, and possible hair on the spine are all signs of warnings. Ears warning like a cat as the upright ears would be the first warning sign on those dogs. This from a dog walker.


I tired from working a 13hr shift so I apologize for not understanding your post Joe but are you saying we should discount Dr. Coren's findings? I can't imagine any of us would deny docked breeds are going to be at a disadvantage when communicating with other dogs. Yes there are other cues they can use to signal mood and intent but they are still missing a major appendage that other dogs use when assessing the situation.

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Article on Tail Wagging in Psychology Today
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 2:19 pm 
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QueenBecka wrote:
I have never seen a non stubbied cocker :shock:


Here you go:

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Article on Tail Wagging in Psychology Today
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 3:24 pm 
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Vera wrote:
QueenBecka wrote:
I have never seen a non stubbied cocker :shock:


Here you go:

Image

Image

Image

Image

Thank you Vera! I was curious, so happy you posted pics!
They are cute :) But I think I like the docked tail look better :) With the tail they look like complete bird hunting dogs!


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Article on Tail Wagging in Psychology Today
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 3:50 pm 
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No a person should be up on their dog language. We should all ready know there body language. You can start at the ears and end up at the tail or the tail end up at the ears.

Lions are the same way or anything that has a tail and ears.


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Article on Tail Wagging in Psychology Today
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 4:01 pm 
I think docked tails can still do all those things. Sokka has a very expressive tail. It does all the things Dr Coren describes.


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Article on Tail Wagging in Psychology Today
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 5:54 pm 
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Julie Hydro wrote:
I think docked tails can still do all those things. Sokka has a very expressive tail. It does all the things Dr Coren describes.


Yup. I think the problem is the breeds left with just a tail base stump like a rottie, or some unfortunate puppy mill cockers whose tails are docked way too short. A properly docked cocker tail is a fully functioning communicating tail.

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Article on Tail Wagging in Psychology Today
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 7:42 pm 
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What a Dog’s Tail Wags Really Mean:

Some New Scientific Data?

Specific tail wags provide information about dogs’ emotional state.
Published on December 5, 2011 by Stanley Coren, Ph.D., F.R.S.C. in Canine Corner

Is there a newer study on the study update? I like the show dog docked tail. Oh Ollie, it's time for a shower. Oh yes tail tucked between the his glandes, not happy.


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Article on Tail Wagging in Psychology Today
PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2012 7:00 am 
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ASPCA - Virtual Pet Behaviorist - Canine Body Language
http://www.aspcabehavior.org/articles/5 ... guage.aspx


Canine Body Language
Dog Faces
Dog Ears
Dog Tails
Dog Hair
Overall Body Posture
Putting It All Together—The Whole Dog

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, "800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites every year." Children receive about half of these injuries and kids are more likely than adults to suffer severe injuries. However, it's possible to avoid many dog bites by reading a dog's body language and respecting the dog when it signals it needs to be left alone. Obviously, dogs cannot explain their feelings, but careful observation can give us insight into their moods.


How to Read your Dog's Body Language
# 1. Observe the dog's ears to get a considerable amount of insight into what the dog is feeling.

Read more: How to Read your Dog's Body Language | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_2023483_read-do ... z1zwzkHu4p


Enjoy the reading and have a great day at a dog park and get out and enjoy the big world.


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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Article on Tail Wagging in Psychology Today
PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2012 6:36 pm 
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:love We have one of each in our house and they BOTH do a great job of communicating with their tails and body language! We can tell exactly what they are trying to communicate. Buddy with his full beautiful flag of a tail and Leo with his little wiggle butt and nubbie!

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Article on Tail Wagging in Psychology Today
PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:06 pm 
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Man's best friend = dog. A fact known for centuries. At long last someone funded a study to tell us what we already know if we spend much time with our dogs: how they express themselves. We learn from each dog the subtle differences of expression while remaining canine. Now, at last, someone has morphed from human to dog and back again to tell us what we already knew without going to so much trouble! :neen

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Article on Tail Wagging in Psychology Today
PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2012 8:17 pm 
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DonnaHR wrote:
Man's best friend = dog. A fact known for centuries. At long last someone funded a study to tell us what we already know if we spend much time with our dogs: how they express themselves. We learn from each dog the subtle differences of expression while remaining canine. Now, at last, someone has morphed from human to dog and back again to tell us what we already knew without going to so much trouble! :neen

:ROFL

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Article on Tail Wagging in Psychology Today
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 11:36 am 
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You know, that article is very accurate. I checked with my babies and yes, when the tale
goes to the left, it is during a very happy time. Even the little nubbies go to the left more than
the right ! :th-up :gig

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 Post subject: Re: Interesting Article on Tail Wagging in Psychology Today
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 9:57 pm 
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I, too love a cocker with a docked tail but having a dog that has a natural tail and tends to have anxiety, this article was helpful. I would definitely not get as much information if he had a docked tail. I personally would not dock a puppies tail but they are incredibly cute when they get wagging.


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