Pet Body Language - How to Understand Your Pet Better

Wouldn’t you just love to know what your pet’s thinking?

Although dogs and cats cannot speak, they can communicate and if you understand your pet’s body language, it will go a long way to help you figure out what they’re thinking and feeling.

Watching your dog’s or cat’s eyes, ears, tail and body position will give you lots of clues.

Pet Body Language: Dogs  

What does it mean when my dog yawns?

If your dog starts yawning, it’s usually a sign that she’s trying to get rid of stress. If she’s yawning repeatedly while waiting in the vet’s office, she’s probably nervous.


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What does it mean when my dog’s tail is raised?

If your dog’s tail is straight out up pointed upwards, her head is lowered slightly, and her ears are forward her body language indicates that she’s alert.

She’d detected something interesting or something new. This posture is an indication that she is paying attention and assessing the situation.

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Why does my dog bow?

The dog bow, also known as the play bow, is a very common dog posture. Dogs and puppies will do it to each other as a request to play, and sometimes to indicate submission. If your dog bows to you, she wants you to throw her favorite ball.

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Why does my dog wag his tail?

Your dog’s tail is a good way to read his body language. But tail wagging is not always an indicator that your dog is feeling happy. There are many ways a dog can use its tail to communicate both to you and to other dogs. The position your dog’s tail is in and the speed it is wagging can give you further clues to your pet body language. For example:

  • Happiness: When your dog is happy and being friendly, his tail will be in a slightly raised position. If the tail is wagging quickly and he’s also jiggling his rear, he’s excited.
  • Submissiveness: If your dog’s tail drops from slightly raised to low, his body language is showing you that he’s being submissive and will not be threatening towards you. If the tail drops lower and is held between the legs, curling to the belly, it means your dog is afraid.
  • Aggression: If your dog’s tail is held high and his ears are forward his body language denotes aggressiveness. Holding the tail raised also allows dogs to release scent from their anal glands to mark their territory.

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Why is the hair on my dog’s back standing up?

This is known as raised hackles. Your dog’s hair will raise up along the ridge of his back or across his shoulders when he is aroused or upset. This is not always a sign of aggression, but more usually fear or stress.

Pet Body Language: Cats

When it comes to pet body language, cats may not be quite as easy to read as dogs their body language is often a little more subtle.

However, there are some visual and behavioral clues you can look out for.

What does it mean when my cat displays her tummy?

When your kitty is rolling on her back and displaying her tummy, it means that she trusts you a lot. However, you still may get a hostile reaction if you try to pet her tummy.

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Why does my cat move her tail from side to side?

If she’s flicking her tail, her eyes are wide and fixed, and her ears are moving back and forth so she can hear more sounds, this is cat body language for anxiety. She may crouch and get ready to run or pounce.

What are signs of anger in a cat?

It’s pretty easy to tell if your cat is angry or feeling threatened. Her tail will be held rigid, her back will be arched, and her ears will be pressed back. She may also bare her teeth or hiss.

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Why is my cat blinking slowly?

Slow blinking is a sign that your cat or kitten is relaxed and happy. Some say it’s how they say “I love you”.

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How is my cat feeling when her tail is up in the air?

This is a comfortable, relaxed cat. It’s an indication they’re in their zone and they feel at home as they move about.

Understanding your pet’s body language can help you strengthen your bond with them.


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