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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 12:06 am 
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Those of you interested in animal behaviour, may find this interesting.

'Here boy' makes dogs wag to the right


*Direction of tail wagging highlights different tasks of brain halves.*

John Whitfield

Dogs wag their tails to the right when they see something they want to
approach, and to the left when confronted with something they want to
back away from, say researchers in Italy. The finding provides another
example of how the right and left halves of the brain do different jobs
in controlling emotions.

Unfortunately, because dogs move about so much, the bias can only be
detected using video analysis. It's not obvious enough for you to tell
whether the next dog you encounter is going to lick your face or turn tail.

"After discovering this, I look at every dog I meet, but my impression
is that this is difficult to check outside the lab," says psychologist
Giorgio Vallortigara of the University of Trieste. But it could be used
in animal welfare, he suggests, to help gauge an animal's state of mind.

Vallortigara and his colleagues tested 30 pet dogs of varying breeds,
recruited through an obedience school at the University of Bari's
veterinary faculty.

Over a series of trials, they videoed each dog's response to being shown
either their owner, a human stranger, a cat, or a Belgian shepherd
malinois, a large dog breed similar to a German shepherd.

Shown a human or a cat, tails wagged consistently to the right. The
unfamiliar person elicited less wagging than the owner, and the cat the
least wagging of all --- probably because the dog was so interested in
giving chase that it was distracted from wagging, says Vallortigara.

Shown a large, unfamiliar and intimidating dog, the dogs wagged their
tails more to the left. Dogs also wagged to the left when left on their
own without anyone to look at, the researchers report in /Current
Biology/^1 <http> .

*Divided brain*

Previous studies have shown that, in humans, strong activity in the
brain's left hemisphere (which controls the right side of the body) is
associated generally with a sunny disposition. Human studies have also
linked left-brain activity with approach behaviour, and right-brain
activity with retreat.

Dogs are already known to favour one paw over the other --- most male
dogs are left-pawed, whereas females show a weaker tendency to
right-pawedness. But what they do with their tails may be a better guide
to how their brains work, says Vallortigara.

"The use of forelimbs is not so important in animals other than humans,"
he says. "But tail wagging is an important emotional response."

"This is a fascinating way to measure lateralization," says
neuroscientist Lesley Rogers of the University of New England in
Armidale, Australia. "It will be valuable in a range of tests, not only
in dogs, but in other species with tails."

*Biased behaviour*

Biases for right- or left-'handed' behaviours have been seen in fish,
amphibians, reptiles, birds, reptiles and mammals. "The evidence is that
brain asymmetry is quite ancient," says Vallortigara. "It seems to have
started early in the vertebrates."

Parcelling out tasks to one side of the brain or the other avoids
duplication, and may help decision-making by reducing conflict between
brain regions.

More puzzling, says Rogers, is why such biases also arise in behaviours
such as escape. Toads and chicks, for example, are both more likely to
leap away from something seen in the left eye --- suggesting that a
predator could learn to sneak up from the right. Why such biases do not
vary at random from animal to animal is still uncertain.

Vallortigara's team next aims to see whether a dog's retreat or approach
response depends on which eye or nostril is stimulated by a friend or foe.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 12:16 am 
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They have just discovered this, answers the question 'should dogs have their tails docked' don't you think. :)

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 7:52 am 
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What if some of the dogs used were used to meeting strangers ? and cats ? and large dogs ? and if we can not see this with our eyes, what proof is there that dogs can see it . I think tests on only 30 dogs hardly justifies and an argument against tail docking. :?

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 10:58 am 
I'll just watch Zorba's stump wag to the right then instead of the left.
My friends parents bought him a Dobermann Pinscher a couple of years ago and they were anti-docking so it was left with a tail, it looked awful but thats not the main point, it broke it's tail twice, once from running past a fence and knocking it's tail and the second time from sitting down on it.
My dobe has never had a broken tail because he was docked(professionally) but if he did have a tail I would bet 99% that he would have broken it purely on the way he throws himself about.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 12:00 pm 
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Mirf,
I was only making the point that the dogs in the tests could have neen responding to something else, perhaps the colour of the strangers coat ? even if a man or woman , the colour/size of the cat even, was the cat friendly towards the dogs ? and so on, I think a lot of how dogs react to stimuli has a direct bearing on how they were brought up as pups. And all of the dogs in the tests could not have been brought up the same. therfore each would react differently to the same situation ?
I think that there are many ifs or buts and too few dogs in this studie for it to be anything else but interesting, ( which it was ). Had it been with 3000 dogs then it may mean something.
And although we all have our thoughts on tail docking and we have just had a long thread on it I can not see the point of relating this minor studie with a subject as complex as tail docking ? Had there been some docked dogs in the tests then I could understand . :D

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 8:39 pm 
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I have explained in the previous thread that I am against tail docking for cosmetic reasons, but for it in genuine working dogs, working spanials DO have tails , LONG tails , it is just the last third that is missing, this is what gets damaged when working. And can they proove that the dogs can see this very slight movement they are talking about ?
Oh , and by working , I mean dogs that do work, sometimes 4-5 days a week for 7 months of the year. Not pets that hunt whilst out walking, :)

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 11:35 pm 
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I wasn't saying that this new found experiment was the only reason to avoid tail docking, just another to add to the list. Dogs do not see colour either although red is believed to be a colour they can see more than others, they see movement, thats why if you are in the distance your dog has trouble finding you. People then think their dog has poor eye sight, not so he can see but only movement, that is why they are excellent hunters, they can see the smallest of movement.
Otterhounds are excellent hunters, fox hounds, Beaucerons, all have tails, labradors, retrievers all dogs used for game so why have they got a tail.



The position of the tail and the way it is moved can signal pleasure, fear, friendliness, dominance, playfulness, defensiveness, inquisitiveness, aggression, nervousness and submissiveness. Thus tail docking can affect the interaction of dogs with other animals and man. Some behaviourists believe the absence of a tail may predispose a dog to show unwarranted aggression to other dogs and man, or that they may be the victim of attacks by other dogs due to their failure to communicate (RJ Holmes personal communication). Dogs are playing an increasingly significant role as pets and companion animals. Their role in the reduction of emotion and stress related diseases in western society is well recognised, as is their important role in companion animal therapy with children, the handicapped and the elderly. Therefore, good, clear communication with 'man's best friend' is of paramount importance and anything that may impair this communication should he avoided. Tail docking is one such thing.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 11:42 pm 
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Young_Gun wrote:
I'll just watch Zorba's stump wag to the right then instead of the left.
My friends parents bought him a Dobermann Pinscher a couple of years ago and they were anti-docking so it was left with a tail, it looked awful but thats not the main point, it broke it's tail twice, once from running past a fence and knocking it's tail and the second time from sitting down on it.
My dobe has never had a broken tail because he was docked(professionally) but if he did have a tail I would bet 99% that he would have broken it purely on the way he throws himself about.


Because they have bred Dobermans for so long for their looks, the tail is now smaller and spindly, hence why they hurt them, if they left them alone like the Beauceron then they would have a strong tail, it is purely cosmetic. The Beauceron is believed to be an ancestor of the Doberman.
PS. Did you get my pm about the diet?

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 9:26 am 
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Lupus, can you honestly say, that you can not see the tests done on the 30 dogs has so much potential for flaws that it can not be regarded as valid evidence for anything ? you of all people must agree that 30 dogs brought up 30 different ways will react differently to stimuli ? wether tailed or not .
And were there any docked dogs in the test to compare with ?
I know we will never agree on tail docking, and I respect anyone who stands up for their beliefs, as you and Mirf obviously do.
So I will agree, to disagree with you both on the subject.
:D
and not mention docking anymore, promise :D

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2007 11:47 pm 
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Yes Yes, 30 dog's wouldn't react much differently to stimuli, dog's are not that intelligent and it all boils down to behaviour, all dog behaviour is very similar to another. These are good scientists and that is why it was regarded as a good find, tests are done all the time and finds like this are good for behaviourists and zoologists alike. These scientists do everything to define the behaviour as did Watson many years ago, tests now are just much more humane.
Anyway I never put it on here as fact, I just put it on here as it was interesting, and it talks about other animals also and the way there brains work.

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