What do your pets say behind your back?

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For a long time I have always wondered how animals talk to each other and how they try to tell us what they want. After living with two dogs for three years I have come to notice that it is impossible to tell if there is an actual animal language but they do have various forms of communication.
1. Gaze: I noticed whenever my dogs are about to wrestle with each other they'll just sit there and stare at each other for about 30 seconds without moving an inch and then whoosh they'll just run after each other. Are they actually exchanging their thoughts?article-0-08288061000005DC-736_468x383.jpg
2. Smells: Ever heard the phrase "marking your territory"? While we identify others by their looks, smells are how animals can identify others. Some smells can even have pheromones that can be threatening and lead to a fight. That's why if you bring your dog to a dog park they spend the first five minutes probably just sniffing the ground.
3. Gestures: Even to humans body language can be more powerful than what we actually say and it's the same with animals. For example, when a dog goes into a "play pose" (front legs are on the ground and back legs are fully stood up) or by simply wagging their tail lets the other one know if they're in the mood to play or not.
Now unless you have some superpower that allows you to read minds I doubt anyone will know what animals are actually saying. We can guess and assume but until they create a some sort of collar that can read and pronounce animals thoughts like in the movie Up!, I think animal language will remain a mystery.
For more reading here's a link to an article about the ways different animals communicate with each other. Tell me what you think of it!


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Good points, and good picture! I do think that some animals can communicate sounds to form basic language. Such as wolf howl.

I agree that dogs can communicate sounds to form a language. I've always felt that my dog's bark changes length and pitch depending on whether he is excited to see someone or simply scolding a trespassing squirrel. Anyone who owns a pet know that even though they don't speak "our language" they do a pretty adequate job of telling us exactly what they are thinking, feeling or desiring at the time.

This was an interesting blog post to read. It's funny how humans can understand a lot about a dog's mood and expressions without ever exchanging words. I have always wondered if animals have their own language that only they can understand. It makes sense that animals can communicate mostly through body language and gestures.

This is very interesting! It's cool to think about my own dog and try to compare these ways of communicating to things he does. I definitely think dogs can "communicate" with each other but I think of it more as sensing different things.

Great topic! Crazy to think that our own pets could be "talking" behind our backs. I always felt that animals (especially dogs) could interpret how we are feeling by our body language. When ever someone in my family is sad my dog always seems to know where to lay his head on that individual to just sit and be there with them.

I have often wondered if my dogs have conversations when I am not around. I have seen many of these signals in my dogs as well, it is like they can just look at each other and have a long conversation. I think this can also be related to humans as well. Body language is a major form of communication, I mean think about going to lecture and listening to your professor make a joke. It would be hard to catch the same mannerisms if you were not actually in the room. This has to deal with extralinguistic information.

Nice examples of dog "communication". You might like "How to Speak" by Stanley Coren, Ph.D.

I love this topic and the reference to Up is great. I have also wondered about what my dogs are thinking or trying to communicate. Sometimes it is clear that they feel threatened, but other times I have absolutely no idea why they are barking. I also agree that dogs use sound to communicate. Clearly, we don't always understand what they mean though.

I am often confused by how my cat acts. She will go from staring out the window, to running circles around the room, and then curl up on a chair and fall asleep like nothing happened. I am beginning to understand some of her quirks and gestures but I will never be able to completely understand what she is saying. I wish I could understand what she is saying when she follows me around the house meowing at me, but that could probably ruin some of the cuteness factor.

I think you should try observing a couple different types of animals, instead of just dogs. I wouldn't call it a language, but canines have barks and howls they use to communicate, whereas animals like squirrels or rabbits don't really make many noises at all. It would be interesting to see if some of the physical ways they communicate are the same as what your dogs use. To think we could ever fully understand them is a long shot, but the more you observe the more you'll be able to predict what they're thinking or how they'll act.

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This page contains a single entry by mill5531 published on March 3, 2012 8:00 PM.

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