4 pet behaviors we completely misinterpret

Our pets don’t have the ability to tell us how they feel, but sometimes they can show us. Unfortunately, this can lead us to misinterpret what our furry friends are trying to say. Is tail wagging always a sign that dogs are happy? Do cats really show affection when they rub against you, or are they claiming you as their property? Let’s take a deeper look at some of the most misunderstood behaviors and learn what they really mean.

1. Tail Wagging:

True or false, a dog wagging its tail is a happy dog: False, tail wagging can be a signal to show that a dog is content, however, it can also be a warning sign that the dog is ready to attack. Researchers are studying the meaning behind tail wagging and they are discovering that happy dogs tend to wag their tails to the right, but a dog wagging its tail to the left could be a signal that the dog is uncomfortable or angry. We must always be aware of a dog’s entire body language, not just their tail wag, before petting them. This is especially when we are introducing ourselves to a dog for the first time.

2. Your cat is happy to see you when you get home from work, maybe

Is your cat happy to see you when you get home?
Is your cat happy to see you when you get home?

We tend to think of cats as being solitary animals that nudge their head on us only when they want something. But research is showing that cats may not be as recluse as we think. Sharon Crowell-Davis, a professor of veterinary behavior at the University of Georgia, has found that feral cats create groups and spend several minutes greeting each other by rubbing and wrapping their tails over each other’s backs when they reunite after a time of separation, she says “It’s like a human hug.” So, it seems like cats do have the ability to show affection and their rubbing, nudging, and wrapping around your ankles might be an “I love you” not just “feed me,” “Oh, you’ve been out for a while. Now I have to mark you as mine again.”

3. Tail Chasing

It is not uncommon for pups to chase their tail, and it is perhaps one of the most adorable things to watch. Although we see this game of chase as an amusing activity that dogs do, it could also be a warning sign if older dogs are constantly trying to catch their tail. This action could be a way for older dogs to get attention or a signal that they are feeling anxious. Tail chasing could also be linked to a medical condition like skin irritation or even a even a neurological condition. We think that most dog owners will agree that their pets are always looking for ways to entertain themselves, so not every tail chase is should be seen as a sign of distress, but it is important to take note if this activity starts to affect the dog’s daily routine and you should speak with your veterinarian with any concerns that you may have.

4. Cats and their humans develop a secret language of meows.

A big misconception about that cats that many of us have is that cats meow as a way to communicate with other animals. Truth be told, feral cats are very silent meowing about once every hundred hours. But for some reason domesticated seem like they can’t stop meowing. As it turns out meowing from domestic cats is a learned behavior, and cats use their voice to tell their owners that they want something. Anthrozoologist, John Bradshaw, claims that each cat and its owner create their own unique meaning of their meows. What is most interesting is that a study done in 2003 by Cornell researchers found that owners can tell exactly what each meow is telling them, this includes “feed me” and “I’m bored.”

July 28, 2017

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