How well do you communicate with your pets?

Many of us think we know exactly what our dogs or cats are thinking or feeling. Maybe we have them relatively well-training and they respond to our commands in an instant. Or we have those instances where we just seem to have a special bond with them, when they curl up with us right when we need comforting most, or when they sense danger and warn us with odd behavior. But how well do we really understand what our pets are trying to communicate with us? What are ways we can learn to better interpret the signals they’re giving off and respond accordingly?

What are you communicating? First let’s turn it around on ourselves. Your dog and cat often respond to your body language and tone of voice, so what are those telling them in the first place? Are you being playful and happy, or angry and loud? Are you in a sad mood or exhausted? Pets will often mirror this in a manner intended to avoid or defuse detected conflict in the environment.

  1. Study dog and cat body language. We may think we know what barking or a wagging tail means, but those indicators can indicated very different things in different circumstances. Bared teeth may indicate a playful attitude at times and aggression (or fear) at others. With cats, exposing their stomachs or fast twitches of their tail are equally suggestive of various moods depending on whats going on around them.
  2. Abnormal behavior. You’ve likely been around your dog or cat long enough to know what they’re like on a daily basis. So if they suddenly start behaving differently, this could be a sign of illness or other hidden malaise that could needed attending. Should this altered behavior go on for a week or more without other obvious symptoms, it’s a good idea to take them to a vet for a checkup, just in case.

Do you have any idea of what your pet has been trying to tell you lately? Does it feel like they’re not their usual selves, either being more energetic than usual or more lethargic? Are they constantly agitated and pacing? The more you pay attention to what they’re telling you, the more you’ll be able to both enjoy their affection as well as catch trouble in the making.

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