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.
- 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
- 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!