My family has a beagle called Basil, we have been convinced for years that he not only understands what we say to him but that he talks back. Science has now proved that we are partially correct.
When dogs feel fundamentally positive about something or someone, their tails wag more to the right side of their rumps. When they have negative feelings, their tail wagging is biased to the left.
A study describing the phenomenon, “Asymmetric tail-wagging responses by dogs to different emotive stimuli,” appeared in the March 20 issue of Current Biology. The authors are Giorgio Vallortigara, a neuroscientist at the University of Trieste in Italy, and two veterinarians, Angelo Quaranta and Marcello Siniscalchi, at the University of Bari, also in Italy.
My family will be very interested to see if they expand the study to confirm Basil's 'happy kicks'. When Basil is excited or 'happy' he trots around the garden kicking his front legs out as if he is doing a jig, hence 'happy kicks'.
I believe it is also only a matter of time before we know more about what dogs think. Though I imagine most of Basil's messages to us will be "give me another snack".