Do You Know What Your Pet Is Telling You?

Does a wagging tail mean your dog is happy? It depends on the wag. If it’s low and swinging, yes, that’s a sign of happiness and excitement. If it’s high and stiff, that’s actually a warning sign that you should back off. And what about cats? When a cat’s tail is straight in the air, that means “I’m happy to see you.”

• Yawning. Dogs and cats both yawn for different reasons. A cat will yawn for the same reason you and I do. Because they’re relaxed and content. But research shows that a yawning dog is actually stressed out. If you’re petting a dog and he starts to yawn, stop. You’re annoying him.

• Ears. Flat ears are a dog’s way of saying either, “I’m scared” or “I’m sorry.” Like if your dog digs up the garden and you catch him and tell him no, his ears will likely lie flat. For a cat, flat ears mean “I’m ready to rumble!” A cat folds its ears back so they don’t get scratched in a fight.

• What does it mean when your pooch rolls over? Your dog is saying, “You’re the boss.” It’s a submissive move and you should feel free to rub his belly. In fact, if you’re picking out a puppy, roll it over on its back. If it struggles, it might have dominance issues. If it submits, you’ve got a family friendly pet. Now cats. A cat that exposes it’s stomach doesn’t want a tummy rub unless you don’t mind having your wrist bitten.

• And the final signal from animals: hair standing on end. For both cats and dogs it means, “I’m feeling threatened.” It’s an urgent signal to back off.