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Disclaimer: is provided as a free pet care resource and is not intended to replace veterinary care, advice or treatment.  Your first resource should always be your veterinarian. 

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What Your Pet is Trying to Communicate?



...what your dog is trying to communicate to you Barking is an important way for your dog to communicate their needs and wants.  Barking can relieve stress, boredom, can be an attention getter, and can be territorial.  A dogs body language is also a way for them to communicate.  The following is a general guideline and is meant to help your lean how to interpret what your dog is trying to tell you.  Keep in mind some dogs do not follow the "norm".

  • Tail Pointing - Interested and looking for something

  • Tail Down (between legs) - Scared, defensive, being dominated

  • Tail Up - Happy

  • Tail Wag - Excited

  • Arched Back, Tail High, Hair Raised - Aggression

  • High Pitched Short Repetitive Bark - Wants attention, play

  • Normal Short Bark - Hello

  • Low Deep Short Bark - Announcing a stranger

  • Low Deep Repetitive Bark - Defensive protection

  • Growling - Warning, frightened, aggressive.  Keep in mind some dogs growl during play and this is considered to be an instinct showing dominance not aggression.  It should still not be allowed. 

  • Whining or Yelping - Stress or pain

...what your cat is trying to communicate to you Cats use their meow to signal they need something but uses its body language to convey a message.   Below is a general guideline to follow but we suggest you study your cat's behavior because each cat can be very different.

  • Repetitive Meow - Feed me, let me outside, wants something

  • Quick Meow - Hello

  • Howling - In season or searching

  • Purring - Content, soothing itself

  • Short Repetitive with Hissing - Warning

  • Low Deep Growl - Aggression

  • Rubbing Head, Mouth and Body - Marking territory, pet me, wants something

  • Tail Swat Fast - Mad

  • Tail Swat Jerky - Stalking, pounce

  • Tail Swat Slow - Happy

  • Lap Sitting - Territorial, attention

  • Tail Up Shaking (Unneutered Males and Some Females) - Spraying territories

...what your bird is trying to communicate to you All birds communicate with a combination of body language and calls.  This can very widely from species to species.  Below is a general guideline to follow.  It is intended to be a starting point and if you watch your bird closely, they will teach you their own language.

  • Flared Tail, Eyes Dilating (Amazons & Greys) - Leave me alone, aggression

  • Biting - Can be trying to move mate (bonded person) out of perceived danger, fear and attention

  • Calling Morning and Evening (Cockatoos and Macaws) - Calling to the flock, finding family and friends.

  • Flapping Wings - Happy, showing off, excited

  • Screeching and Flapping Wings - Warning

  • Happy Talk or Chattering - Happy or contented

  • Singing (Canaries) - Attracting a mate

  • Eye Dilation - Excited, interested

...what your rabbit is trying to communicate to you Rabbits and other small animals communicate mostly with body language.  This information is intended to help you recognize this language so you can learn to understand what he or she is trying to tell you.

  • Hind leg standing - getting a better look

  • Stop and drop - "Flattening" is a sign of being very scared and trying to conceal themselves

  • Rubbing chin - marking territory

  • Digging - in the wild, their instinct is to build dens

  • Ear Shaking - rabbits show their dislike of tastes or smells by shaking their head

  • Gnawing - this is natural instinct to file down overgrown teeth

  • Kicking - this is a rabbits defense mechanism

  • Licking - Your know you are loved when your rabbit licks you

  • Squatting - This is a sign of contentment and relaxation

... what your horse is trying to communicate to you Horses use a lot of body language and a little vocalizations.  The following are basic messages you can look for but we suggest you observe your horse closely to learn his individual language.

  • Ear Flattening - A sign that your horse is mad and may bite or kick

  • Ear Twitching - Listening and nervous or excited

  • Ears Pricked Forward - Listening intently, interested

  • Donkey Eared - Relaxed or sleeping

  • Feet Stamping - Impatient, excited (or fly problem)

  • Head Bobbing - Give me some! or let me go

  • Head Rubbing - Marking territory, playing and itching

  • Lipping - kisses

  • Tail Swishing - Impatient, irritated



Have you ever wondered...?

How Old Your Pet is in Human Years?

dogbutton.gif (3366 bytes) Dog     cateyes.gif (1031 bytes) Cat      cockatoo.gif (306 bytes) Bird    

 rabbit02.gif (2067 bytes) Small Animal     chameleon.gif (367 bytes) Reptiles

  dogbutton.gif (3366 bytes) old your dog is in human years?  Below is a chart that is generally accepted to be the number of dog years to human years.  The ratio is a dog 1 year to a human 7 years.   Depending on the breed of your dog, the size of your dog and the quality of life you dog receives, this scale can vary widely.  Larger dogs tend to have a shorter lifespan of 10-12 years as compared to small dogs with a lifespan from 12-15 years.   Some dogs have been known to live until 20 years old.

Dog Human Dog Human
1 7 11 77
2 14 12 84
3 21 13 91
4 28 14 98
5 35 15 105
6 42 16 112
7 49 17 119
8 56 18 126
9 63 19 133
10 70 20 140

cateyes.gif (1031 bytes) ...what is the lifespan of my cat?  Cats have a healthy lifespan of around 12-20 years.  Depending on the quality of life and whether they are indoor or outdoor cats, their lifespans can be greatly affected.  Most outdoor cats have a shorter lifespan due to the fact that they come in contact with more viruses, have a rougher life, cars, dogs, etc.  If you have an indoor cat, keep an eye on obesity for a healthier lifestyle.

cockatoo.gif (306 bytes) ...what is the lifespan of my bird? Below is a general range of lifespans on popular birds.  Most birds have lifespan equal to our own.  This means that having a bird can be a lifetime commitment and should not be entered into lightly.  In general, the larger the bird the longer its lifespan will be.  If you choose to make that commitment and take good care of your bird, you will have a lifelong friend.

Cockatoos 60 or more years Macaws 60 or more years
African Greys 60 or more years Amazons 60 or more years
Conures 30-40 years Cockatiels 20-25 years
Parakeets 15-20 years Finches & Conures 10-12 years

rabbit02.gif (2067 bytes)...what is the lifespan of my small animal? Although small animals don't live as long as other pets, if they receive the best care you can offer, you will be rewarded with years of companionship.  Below is a general range of lifespans for small animals.

Hamster 2-3 years Gerbil 2-3 years
Mice 2-3 years Rat 2-3 years
Ferret 6-8 years Rabbit 10-12 years
Guinea Pig 5-8 years Sugar Glider 10-15 years
Hedgehog 5-7 years    

chameleon.gif (367 bytes) ...what is the lifespan of my reptile? Some reptiles have long lifespans requiring a long commitment of care that should not be entered into lightly.  Below is a general range of lifespans for reptiles.

Snakes - Small 10-15 years
Snakes - Large 25 years
Turtles 20 years
Lizards - Small 3-4 years
Lizards - Large 8-10 years




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