Humans today are quick to discredit each other. We’re overly consumed with ourselves and consciously or subconsciously biased toward other people. And when it comes to animals, the situation is often even worse.
We’re witnessing a great divide between animal empathetic humans and those with very little interest. Unfortunately, the latter group will be difficult to target with an article like this – so I assume you’re reading because the idea of strengthening the connection with a pet intrigues you.
To help guide curious pet owners through the evolving process of intercommunication with their furry family members, we’ve consolidated the findings of the extensive and ongoing research by FluentPet, a company specializing in the development and study of pet communication sound button technology.
— FluentPet (@FluentPet) July 22, 2022
Not Just Bark
Despite dogs’ proven comprehension of our words, they have yet to develop the skills to enunciate them themselves. While barking is a clear indicator of your dog speaking up, there are many other ways dogs may convey their thoughts.
Without voices, animals utilize all five senses, including sight, to a stronger degree. Their eyes are a window to their soul and eye contact, or lack thereof, is a central gauge of communication.
When your pet holds eye contact with you, they’re usually showing respect and love. Prolonged eye contact, especially after you’re no longer staring back, is an indicator of fascination and trust. Just like babies, pets tend to look at what they like and look away from what they don’t.
Lack of eye contact can reflect a pet’s guilt or disgust, much like children. But unlike humans, pets feel no social obligation to look someone in the eyes, therefore very little is needed for them to look away.
Blinking demonstrates processing. Often after spoken to, pets blink quickly and repetitively as they grasp your command and decide if they should act.
Breath cadence is a sure sign of a pet’s stress level. Like humans, fast and shallow breaths show tension and nervousness while deep, long breaths indicate content and calmness. Very much like humans, pets will also sigh when frustrated or relaxed.
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Non-verbal communication is pets’ most common form of expression. There are multiple vessels that their bodies use to communicate.
A dog’s tail can show a collection of moods including excitement, fear, or curiosity. An upright, wagging tail often means they’re happy and engaged while their tail low between legs shows discomfort or weariness. Often, when a dog sniffs or concentrates, their tail straightens and becomes parallel to the ground.
Perked ears can show interest and alertness. Dogs often lift their ears forward in response to arousal from an owner’s command, another animal, or a toy. These ears indicate readiness.
Ears turned to the side can be a sign of anxiousness. Depending on the breed, an animal’s turned ears will look different and may be more difficult to spot.
Finally, ears that are pinned back and facing downward often show submission; dogs may use this to appease commanding authority figures. It’s a sign of fear and a yearn for distance from an ongoing threat.
The less effort an animal must put into their ears, the more relaxed they are.
Again, more tension around the mouth area indicates more stress for an animal. A neutral position can be a softly opened mouth with the tongue laying lightly across the bottom teeth. When the mouth is tightly open, lines of tension are visible around the face and the tongue spills over the teeth to indicate stress.
A mouth that is tightly closed can show focus or discomfort while a softly closed mouth is another neutral and relaxed position.
Quite obviously, when an animal bares its teeth and retreats its tongue, they’re often preparing to attack. The tongue is pulled back to protect it from getting bit and the teeth are shown to threaten their opposition.
Legs and Spine
Animals make themselves smaller when frightened by lowering their bodies and crouching toward the ground. In contrast, this can be a sign of playfulness. Therefore, context clues are highly important to analyze an animal’s state of being.
Bridging the Breed Gap
Researchers continue to study domesticated animals and their capacious needs. The extent of their awareness may never be fully understood, but it’s very clear we are underestimating their capabilities.
Domesticated animals are often passive creatures; they’ve been conditioned to keep their thoughts to themselves but can learn to become more outwardly expressive. With your patience and attention, you’ll notice subtle cues from your pet, indicating their state of cognizance.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com. — In the Featured Photo: Dog. Featured Photo Credit: Victor Grabarczyk.