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The Language Of Cats And Dogs

Updated: Feb 13, 2020

By Shanna Edwards

Do you ever wish you could have a real conversation with your pet? Wouldn’t it be great if they could speak and have you respond to them?

Image by Lili Chin via

Although this might just be an idea for television in 2019, there are still many ways you can communicate with your dog or cat. Surprisingly, they might be communicating back to you too! Before we discuss this communication in more detail, lets define communication.

Communication is any way in which individuals can exchange information. This means that body language (the way your dog’s body is positioned, for example) can be a form of communication. Also, communication can be between any “individuals,” such as between you and your cat or even between a cat and a dog.

Here are some ways your pet might be communicating common emotions to you:


When your dog is afraid, watch out for trembling of their entire body and their tail being tucked between their legs. Also, your dog may yawn even if they are not tired and lick their lips. Try to figure out why they might be afraid. If there was a sudden loud noise for instance, this might be an indication that your dog is scared. However, these signs may mean other emotions if there was nothing that could’ve scared your dog. For instance, if you have just taken your dog on a run and they yawn, they’re probably just tired!

If you have a cat, they will most likely show fear by curling up into a ball, or trying to run away and hide. They may also freeze in place. Sometimes, even if you want to help, the best thing to do is to leave your cat alone and let them calm down. Often when you try to help, the cat gets more aggressive and you may end up getting scratched. If whatever made them afraid is still around (e.g. an unknown person or stranger) try to distance your cat from it.

And be careful! Scared dogs and cats may become aggressive without warning.


When a dog is angry, it is really easy to tell. They may growl, show their teeth, bark really loudly, or stiffen their entire body and stand up tall. The dog may also freeze and stare at you for a while. In this situation, the dog might just be uncomfortable and not know who you are. Don’t panic! Definitely do not run. Try to leave the dog alone or have the owner of the dog show you what to do to make him more comfortable.

On the other hand, cats show their aggression by hissing but also by standing really tall. If their hair is standing up/stretched out, this is a good indicator. If you are close enough to see their eyes, and they appear wider than normal, then you should distance yourself from the cat.


Dogs show their affection by wagging their tails very quickly, especially if they haven’t seen you for a long time. Some dogs also maintain eye contact with people they trust more. However, watch out for their body posture, because this can also mean they’re angry! If they are relaxed, maybe lying down or sitting, then they love and trust you. If your dog is rubbing or leaning against you, this is their way of cuddling you.

Likewise, cats tend to rub their heads on you to show affection. If your dog or cat suddenly exposes their belly, then they want some tummy rubs and trust you enough to let you do that. Lastly, if your cat spends a lot of time just hanging around you, and looks at you with slow blinks, these are signs it loves you.

Now you have just a few ways your pet may try to communicate with you. Watch out for these signs to know your pet!

Image by Lili Chin via



Editor: Caitlin Quinn

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