Because they don’t speak our language, we often have to guess how pets feel and act the way they do. And, as you probably already know from experience, it takes time to develop a sense of what is going on inside the head of your companion dog and cat. But that’s what makes having them around so interesting and, occasionally, challenging.

Last week we introduced the topic of behavior and body language. In today’s blog we’re going to discuss a few more mood indicators and what to avoid. 

Mistakenly, a large percentage of humans believe that canine and feline behavior cues are identical. Then, after a rather painful experience, they find out—the hard way—that’s not the case.

Belly exposure is one glaring example. Read on for more tips.

If you don’t know why dogs do this, learn all about how pets feel and act the way they do
You can learn how pets feel and act by understanding why dogs sniff this part of the anatomy

A Dog

  • Food and toys: do not allow Fido to guard and prevent you from getting near what he claims is his and his alone. 

Reaction: he will almost certainly bite or even attack you.

  • Shakes toys vigorously in his mouth: this is how dogs in the wild kill their prey by breaking their neck.
  • Sniffs the rear end of other dogs: the pheromones (chemicals)  secreted by this part of the anatomy allow other dogs to know his identity.
  • What happiness looks like: happy facial expression; body relaxed; one paw tucked under his body
Kitty looks carefree but skills to know how pets feel and act a certain way help promote harmony at home
Kitty seems carefree but it’s helpful to develop skills to really know how pets feel and act a certain way

A Cat

  • Petting: many, many cats do not tolerate having their belly, tail or any of their paws touched so avoid doing this unless you know her very, very well. 

Reaction: she will lash out by scratching and injuring you.

  • Turns her back on you: it means she trusts you; and if she places her rear end in your face, she is being affectionate and wants to bond.
  • Tries to bite your ankles: this is play aggression; it’s her way of telling you to give her more attention and to play with her.
  • What happiness looks like: eyes half-closed and slow eye blinks; slow, deep breathing; quiet purring; slow walking gait; ears slightly forward.

Addressing The Issue

By taking the time to observe and analyze your companion animals, you will soon develop the ability to know why and how pets feel and act a certain way. This is really important. 

So, if you notice that your dog is starting to show signs of aggression, do not wait thinking that he’ll get over it in time. The fact is, the behavior will only worsen and the consequences can be very serious.

Last but not least, do seek the help of a professional, a dog behavior expert, to address this issue promptly. The expense is a small investment that is well worth it compared to any medical bills and legal expenses that will likely occur down the road.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  

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How to interpret your pet’s body language:

Understanding a cat’s genetic makeup:

And, if you’re ready for a break and want to enjoy a bit of humor, take a look at these amusing videos,


Understanding pet behavior and body language helps pet parents avoid actions like petting a dog on the head
When you understand pet behavior and body language, you will never pet a dog
on the head again

This week’s blog is an introduction to the fascinating subject of pet behavior and body language as it related to dogs and cats. In fact, it’s one of many that I will be sharing with you over the coming months.

Some of the behaviors are in their DNA. They are passed down from generation to generation since way back when dogs and cats were wild. However, there are times when these, now, companion animals of ours can be trained to act a certain way. In addition to that, they may just acquire a particular characteristic on their own. And, another likelihood is that they will mimic what they see other canines and felines do.

When you understand pet behavior and body language you can find out why your cat is urinating on your bed
Understanding pet behavior and body language helps pet parents find out why the cat is urinating on their bed

It’s All About Communicating

The body language they exhibit and the sounds they utter tell us, and other animals, what emotional state they are in. Whether they are content and relaxed, excited and playful, concerned and anxious, or defensive, fearful and in fight mode.

These visual and auditive signals may be done consciously, or otherwise, but the purpose is unquestionable. They are designed to transmit to others their intention and when the communication is successful, those other animals and humans will react accordingly. 

Here are just a few specifics to get started, with more on their way very soon.

A Dog

  • Removes food from his bowl and eats it elsewhere: he is prewired to protect his food from other animals.
  • Petting: avoid the head and rear part of the body where he cannot see you. As he reacts, he may either move away or else snap at you.

A Cat

  • Chirping is an attention-getter. Mother cats chirp to their kittens so they pay attention to what she wants them to do and follow her lead. 
  • Urinating on your belongings: it is likely she feels insecure and is attempting to bond by leaving her scent on your personal items.

To Sum Up

Watch. Listen. Learn. And, don’t forget, this is a two-way street. While you are interpreting what your pet is demonstrating to you, your pet is doing the exact same thing, to one degree or another.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!  

Another must-read article in this category.

What dogs and cats are really telling you:


Sniffer dogs like this Spaniel help track down illicit cigarettes and loose tobacco in the UK
Spaniels are frequently used in the UK to detect toxic, spiked cigarettes

Spaniels Are Doing The Sniffing

In our latest Working Dog Heroes story, we highlight the work of specially trained dogs that detect spiked cigarettes. And, in the U.K., it so happens that many of these wonderful dogs are Spaniels.

The supply and demand for cheap, illicit and extremely harmful tobacco products has reached a new high across the pond. However, despite the challenges that law enforcement faces to apprehend the culprits, their job is now a whole lot easier. After all, it’s these sweet-natured canine heroes who have made this possible.

Tainted Tobacco Sniffer Dogs

Both purebred and crossbred, Spaniels are being used to detect spiked cigarettes and loose tobacco. In addition, they sniff out legitimate merchandise that is smuggled into the country.

Sometimes these sniffer dogs wear bodycams that document their work and the public can then view the released footage. The result is a heighten awareness of the health dangers caused by smoking tainted tobacco. And, hopefully, a reduction in the supply and demand of these products.

Targeting Central London

In recent months, police conducted a raid at a hair salon in the heart of London’s West End. The dogs discovered nearly 30,000 fake cigarettes hidden in suitcases inside Lego toys and laptop cases. 

Scamp And Phoebe

I read recently about another seizure in the East Midlands county of Northamptonshire that took place a few years back. To my delight, the article mentioned the two dog heroes. The name of the first one is Scamp, a Springer Spaniel. The other, called  Phoebe, is a Sprocker Spaniel, which is a cross between a Springer and a Cocker!

Dangers And Loopholes

It’s necessary to point out that there are a number of serious concerns related to products such as these. For instance, they are cheaper than genuine ones and can reach more consumers, especially juveniles, But not only that. They are also dangerously toxic. Analyses show that they often contain elevated levels of cancer-causing chemicals, such as nicotine, tar, lead, cadmium and arsenic. Even more shocking, lab technicians have also found unsanitary ingredients as gross as rat droppings and camel excrement mixed in with the tobacco.

And, let’s not forget that these dogs and their handlers also help out in another way. After all, they prevent the loss of government revenue from duty and sales tax when non-counterfeit products are smuggled in.

To Sum Up

When detector dogs sniff out spiked cigarettes they are saving lives. Moreover, this is yet another example of what happens when humans and animals work as a team. Truly great things happen.


Ball games are great exercise for dogs of all sizes. Photo by Ed Siasoco (aka SCFiasco, flickr)
You will rarely meet a dog that doesn’t love ball games.
Photo by Ed Siasoco (aka SCFiasco, flickr)

Today’s topic centers on physical activity and shows why dog exercise consistency is key to their overall wellbeing. 

Generally speaking, our companion canines need to exert a certain amount of energy on a regular basis. How much and in what way depends on many different factors that we will look at shortly and in detail. But, there’s no denying that bodily motion provides the benefits they need to be healthy and stay healthy. After all, we tell humans this all the time, and the exact same principles apply to the dogs in our lives.

Appropriate Activities

When it comes to choosing the kind of exercise for your pet, thoughtfulness and creativity can work hand in hand. For example, you should definitely factor in the breed’s DNA. A Siberian Husky has different hereditary needs to those of a Labrador Retriever. Also, think about your surroundings, and the climate. But, most importantly, dogs need physical activity that is fitting for their physical condition

Dogs Must Exercise Consistently And Regularly

On average, 20 minutes of aerobic activity daily is what your dog needs to lead a healthy life. That is the recommended time a pet parent should put aside for this purpose. Not only is it vital for his overall physical well-being, it also helps alleviate boredom and destructive behaviors.

Here’s the next point to bear in mind. Regardless of what type of exercise it actually is, at least some activity must be done each and every day. Also, even though your intentions are good, it’s not wise to over-indulge. And by that I mean, little or no exercise during the typical work week, then “binge” at the weekend. 

Now, think about what amateur and professional athletes do. They know that more injuries occur when physical exertion is not increased gradually. So, what do they do? They warm up and cool down, by stretching and prepping. Consequently, precautionary measures like these will minimize the likelihood your pet will suffer strains and sprains.

Walking proudly with his big stick is another form of exercise for dogs
Another form of exercise, this dog proudly carries his big stick



  • Walking briskly is basic good exercise that most pet parents can do.
  • Jogging is an ideal activity for more athletically inclined humans and canines.
  • Fetching a ball or catching a frisbee is easily done in the confines of a fenced-in back yard.
  • When dogs really enjoy the outdoors they often love to be their family’s hiking companion.
  • Swimming is a fabulous activity for a broad range of dogs that can choose how playfully or strenuously they want to participate.
  • Another outdoor option is having your dog trot alongside while you are bicycling. However, this does require thorough training and a high degree of caution for it to be safe for everyone involved.
  • Treadmill workouts are gaining popularity especially in areas that are prone to harsh weather conditions that can occur at any time of year. They also require training and extreme caution. And, if you didn’t already know, there are several treadmills designed specifically for canines. So go check them out.


  • Ball, frisbee, stick (inexpensive, exercise-promoting toys)
  • Hide and seek objects (be creative)
  • Set up an agility course (even a small, simple one for beginners and less energetic breeds can work wonders)


  • These include cardiovascular health, agility, reflex acuity, and muscle tone.
  • Exercise provides mental stimulation and is highly beneficial in the effort to control destructive behavior.

To Sum Up

Find out what motivates your dog. Have fun. Enjoy your quality time together. Be creative but, above all, be sensible. And, please make an effort to be consistent. A health, active dog is a happy dog.

Together, let’s keep our precious pets healthy, happy and safe!

More must-read articles in this category:

How to take your cat for a walk

Dog walking safely means being focused

Behavior awareness tips for dog parks

Defensive dog walking is like defensive driving