Decoding Animal Body Language

Happy Dog

Wish you knew what your pet was thinking? Need a guide book to figure out your pet’s mood (or maybe your pet just needs a mood collar)? It’s the ongoing quest of humans trying to understand what our four-legged friends are saying or want with their expressions and body language.

Want to know what their ears, eyes and tails are saying? Recently, a study was done that showed that when a dog’s tail wagged to the right, the dog feels more positive and comfortable with the person or situation. Also, a slow, stiff tail wag is more of a warning of potential aggression than a welcome sign.

Dogs and cats prick their ears up or forward to show interest and lay them back when they are fearful.

More on deciphering your pet’s expressions after the jump.

When dogs are focused, their mouths are closed and they look intently at the object or person. If there is blinking, this is a sign of friendly contact in contrast to simply staring. When you see plenty of tongue hanging out of your dog’s open mouth, your dog is happy and friendly and is loving life.

How about when you stroke your cat and you suddenly get clawed by Fluffy?

If you had been paying closer attention, you might have noticed a fixed stare, flattened ears, flailing tail, fur standing on end or skin rippling beneath your hand.

Those are all signs that the cat is probably being overstimulated, says Marilyn Krieger, a certified cat behavior consultant from Redwood City, Calif. She says too many people don’t recognize signals that a cat is about to bite or scratch.

Regardless of scientific experiments and research, all pet owners have their own special language with their pets and know exactly when they want a belly rub.


5 thoughts on “Decoding Animal Body Language

  1. Maybe it’s just because I’m a good observer and have been around animals pretty much my whole life, but to me this is all basic “of course” knowledge.

  2. I’ve sometimes asked myself why it is that dogs and cats learn to understand human communication very well, but so many humans can’t learn to speak or understand Dog or Cat? Aren’t we supposed to be the more intelligent species?

  3. lol furmom! Not only do I know my fur babies body language, but I’ve also learned to recognize different meows. The meow Whiskers uses when she wants to be cuddled is completely different to the meow she uses when she wants to be fed.

  4. I am trying to decipher some of my iguana’s body language. I was hoping that there would be more examples of what chomping, licking lips and yawning might mean in an iguana. I understand some of his hyjinx.

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