It's so easy to get sucked into everything else about a dog, you might overlook what's going on with your dog's tail. It wags when they're happy to see us (and, let's face it, isn't that always?), it wags at dinner time, and it's up during playtime, but researchers have found that a left-wag and a right-wag mean entirely different things. When Pupper sees the person that she's closest to, that usually gets a tail wag to the right. That's when the tail is the highest, too, and careful studies (seriously, where can we sign up for these adorable-doggie studies?) show that dogs tend to wag their tails to the right when they see new people, although the tail was generally lower. Even cats got the same right-side wag, but unfamiliar, pushy dogs? *left-wag, left-wag, left-wag*
What's the deal? Right wags mean that it's the left side of the brain that's working hardest, and that's the side that processes positive experiences, happiness, and excitement. When your dog sees you and her tail starts going, it's a physical display of happy. But, when they're nose-to-nose with an unfamiliar dog that might or might not be friendly, the left-side wag is coming from the right side of the brain. That's where things like caution and fear come from, and that's also where dogs process new experiences and objects.
The height of a tail wag also means different things. A relaxed tail is a relaxed dog, while a low tail is a submissive or ashamed cue, and a high tail can be a sign of dominance or excitement. When their hips get involved with a wag, that's a real sign of happy.