Research Reveals Dogs’ Emotional Intelligence

Scientist have found that dogs can tell when one of their fellow canines is in distress by the direction their tail is wagging.

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A team of Italian scientists has made a breakthrough discovery in canine emotion and intelligence. In 2007, the researchers first discovered that dogs display their emotions through the direction they wagged their tails—wagging to the left indicated negative emotions and wagging to right indicated positive emotions. Their newest findings, published in the journal Current Biology, show that dogs may also be able to perceive how their canine cohorts are feeling by looking at the direction that their tales wag. During the study, the four-legged participants looked at moving images of dogs wagging tales, and based on the direction the wag was biased toward, the canine subjects seemed to show signs of anxiety and cardiac activity. The researchers noted that the results could be attributed to dogs having asymmetries in the brain, similar to humans. “The emotions are associated presumably with activation of either the right or left side of brain,” says study author Giorgio Vallortigara.