How dogs communicate with each other is different from how they communicate with humans. From their bark to their fur to how they tilt their head, every message they send is a signal to you, which is meant for you to better understand it is they’re trying to say. Take, for example, a dog’s bark. Each specific vocalization is meant to tell you something different. Did you know that there is a difference between a bark and a howl? Did you know by the time a pup is one month old, they have developed most of their vocalizations? A dog’s bark in itself can tell you everything you need to know.
Rapid pace: Basic alarm bark
Sharp, short bark (3 or 4 with pauses): Annoyance
Sharp, short bark: Friendly greeting
Stutter bark: Playful
Midrange to High Midrange growl: Terrified
Continuous bark: Defense mode
Growl bark: Call for assistance
Single, short bark: Surprise
Single yelp or bark: Sudden or unexpected pain
Series of yelps – Severe fear or pain
There are other clues to look for when your dog is attempting to communicate vocally. A rising bark is an indicator that your pup is having fun – while sighs are an expression of emotion. The difference of a sigh can be measured in detail. A sigh when a pup’s eyes are half-closed signals pleasure and contentment but when their eyes are fully closed it’s a sign of displeasure.
There are other signs, such as panting which is usually an attempt to regulate body temperature, mouth shape, head position, the position of their ears, how they cock their head, and where their tail falls, down to how they posture themselves; each with a distinct message that is meant for you to translate.
Felines tend to be misunderstood, to say the least. Their behavior can be a bit sneaky and many cats are quite independent. Like an awkward date, they can be fairly hard to read. The good news is that aside from the typical body language of a cat, their facial expressions tend to give them away. While blinking is a natural, instinctual body function, for cats blinking is a telltale sign of emotions. Blinking excessively is a sure sign of fear.
What about hissing? Why, that is a clear indicator of frustration. The same is true when they widen their mouths to show off their fangs; or when they flatten their ears. While a cat’s meow is obviously their first line of communication and can mean a variety of things, a loud meow is a sure sign that you’ve got an angry kitty – so beware.
Lastly – the head tilt. When your cat is relaxed, they’ll tilt their head and gaze at things to the right of them. But take notice when they opt to go left, that suggests they might be fearful of something.
While animals exhibit all kinds of behavior that we can only try to interpret, the thing to remember when you decide to share your life with a pet is to take the time to learn their language. Good communication is an important part of any healthy relationship!
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