How to make more sense to your pet

Without even knowing it, we unintentionally communicate with our pets on a daily basis with our facial expressions, hand gestures and other movements. Dogs have learnt to ‘read’ our faces and body language on a much higher level than we realise. They know when we’re sad and they know when we’re happy – just watch how they react when you’re jumping for joy. Cats can also feel what our emotional state of mind is; they just don’t seem to care as much.

Talking to your pet

We just can’t help ourselves. When we talk to our pets, we do it in a ‘special’ voice – like talking to a baby. Our voices tend to go up by a pitch or two, and sometimes even more. Although women are more guilty of this, men also do it – just more subtly. But try to talk to your cat or dog in a normal voice and see if he responds.

This is your pet’s first cue that you’re talking to him. The second cue is when you make eye contact with him, which is easier with dogs than with cats. Cats tend to respond when it suits them.

But, sometimes, we feel that we’re not getting a certain message across to our pets. Keeping in mind that cats and dogs have the intelligence equivalent to that of a toddler, we need to first figure out if the message is perhaps too complicated. Then, we need to try different ways of communicating with our beloved pets.

How they communicate

“Dogs use their posture, facial expressions and other body language signals to communicate with each other, and with us. Learning how to read their body language is an essential part of communicating with your dog,” explains behaviourist Alyson Kingsley-Hall. And this is what we need to do to bring across our message.

Wagging your ‘tail’, panting and barking might be a little weird and your dog might wonder what is wrong with you. Keep to normal human behaviour but try different gestures, like pointing in a certain direction. Dogs understand pointing very well.

Would you like to read the rest of the article? Get the April 2022 edition of Animaltalk magazine now, or order a copy from



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