Besides barking, howling and growling, or meowing, purring, hissing and chattering, cats and dogs are fairly limited in the verbal communication department. To compensate, they rely heavily on physical cues and body language to express emotions, needs, and desires. Have you ever seen a dog “grin” and wonder if he’s smiling at you or just panting? Read on to learn what your pet is really trying to tell you!
If you have a cat, you’ve no doubt witnessed them pushing their front paws up and down on a soft blanket, rug or even you! This behavior is hardwired into your cat from kittenhood as a way to stimulate its mother’s milk production. But why do they continue this behavior into adulthood? The simple answer: it’s a sign of their affection and comfort level. So the next time your cat climbs up on the bed and kneads your chest, it’s safe to assume she’s expressing love and contentment. If your cat has its claws, watch out! When kitty gets overly amorous, sometimes the claws come out of their sheath.
Case in Point
Pointing is a common canine behavior that many pet owners may observe while taking their pup for a walk, or for a romp at the dog park. If your dog stops suddenly, lifts one front paw and points his snout intentionally, it’s a sure sign he’s on the hunt. Pointing behavior is derived from a dog’s natural instinct to track down prey. In domesticated animals, their point might be focused on a rambunctious squirrel, squawking bird or anything that piques his predator/prey interest!
Cats really use their noggins. Head bumping, or bunting is a behavior in which cats transfer their scent onto people and things they’ve claimed ownership over (that’s right, in your cat’s mind, he runs the show). Head bunting is the equivalent of a human fist bump, but for kitties. If your cat head bunts you, he’s saying “you’re part of my squad,” thus reaffirming his bond and affection toward you, his loyal subject.
According to PetMD, a dog’s mouth can speak volumes without making a single peep. If you see your pup’s mouth loosely closed or slightly open, it’s a likely signal that he is relaxed, happy and content. Conversely, if his mouth is tightly closed and his head bowed, your pup may be frightened. If he tightens his lips up and bares his teeth, that’s a sure sign your dog is feeling threatened and may respond aggressively. Dogs typically give plenty of warning through body language on how they are feeling, so make sure to pay attention to physical cues and give lots of love to ensure your dog remains comfortable and confident.