Many dog owners will go to great lengths to ensure their dogs are getting the best quality of life. This can often be through examining their diet to make sure they are getting the best nutrition with premium dog food.

However, it appears that dogs could be more like humans than we had thought, as research indicates that they can judge body movements just like we do.

A study, which monitored dogs while they watched films with canines in, found that the way they wag their tails can tell other animals how they are feeling. The Italian researchers monitored the heart rate of a number of dogs while they were watching the footage. They found that canines had higher heart rates and even became anxious when they saw others wag their tails more to the left, but not when they wagged more to the right, or failed to wag at all.

It is thought that this is an unintentional communication and is not consciously understood but is more of an automatic behaviour, according to Professor Giorgio Vallortigara, director of the animal cognition and neuroscience lab at the University of Trento.

He told the BBC: "It is very well known in humans that the left and right side of the brain are differently involved in stimuli that invokes positive or negative emotions.

Professor Giorgio said that, just as in humans, for dogs the right side of the brain was responsible for left-handed movement and vice versa, and the two hemispheres played different roles in emotions.

The researchers wanted to discover whether other dogs were affected by this behaviour. To find this out the team fitted dogs with vests that recorded their heart rates, and played them films of dogs wagging their tails in different ways. In order to make sure the canines were only reacting to tail wagging, the same experience was carried out with silhouettes of dogs.

"When dogs saw other dogs wagging their tails to the right, there was quite a relaxed reaction and no evidence of an increased heart rate. But when the wagging was to the left we saw an increase in heart rate and a series of behaviours typically associated with stress, anxiety and being more alert," Professor Vallotigara said.

Written by: Hannah