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What s in a Woof? How your Pet Communicates

Saturday September 10th 2016

Don’t try to deny it. We all talk to our pets. And most of us are pretty sure they can understand what we are saying.

And research has found that dogs definitely can.

Scientists in Hungary scanned the brains of dogs as they were listening to their trainer speaking to determine which parts of the brain they were using.

Their investigation found that dogs process words with the left side of the brain, while intonation is processed with the right – just like humans.

The dogs only register that they were being praised if the words and intonation are positive. Meaningless words spoken in an encouraging voice, or meaningful words in a neutral tone, do not have the same effect.

In fact, many of us prefer talking to our beloved pet pooch or cat than other humans.

Nearly half of all dog owners (41%) talk to their pet more than they do with their partner, while a further 40% said they were more likely to share secrets with their pet than anyone else.

The study, from, found that on average some owners spend around 47 minutes talking to their dog each day.

Around 80% said they felt happier after having a chat with their pet, and a further 65% went so far as to call their dog their best friend in the world.

Obviously, our pets can’t talk back.

Or can they? Here are some ways our pets communicate with us.


Dogs cannot only understand you, they can talk too. Their bark can represent different emotions. Low-pitched sounds usually indicate threats, anger and the possibility of aggression, while higher-pitched sounds are more of a greeting.

Barks given with front legs flat on the ground and rear held high can simply mean “Let's play!”

• If your dog is happy or wants to play, he may pull his lips back and show his teeth in kind of a smile. This is a gesture that is supposedly reserved only for communication between humans and dogs – a dog will not do this with other pooches.


Cats are known for their independence, but they can be affectionate too.

A gentle head-butt or a lick are signs of love, while a meow can mean something different every time.

It can be a greeting, a command, an objection, or an announcement, like “Here’s your mouse!”

Chirps and trills are how a mother cat tells her kittens to follow her, and if your kitty chirps at you, it may want to lead you somewhere—probably to their empty food bowl.

A common misconception is that a purr means your cat is happy.

Research has discovered this isn’t exactly right. It is more that they are feeling a bit needy – and may even be feeling under the weather. It means they want you to stay close by and fuss over them.


Rabbits may not make the distinctive noises we associate with cats and dogs, but they have other ways to speak to us.

Tooth-clicking, for example, indicates pleasure and contentment. They often make the sounds while being petted or when they are completely relaxed and comfortable with their environment.

Tooth-grinding, on the other hand, is the opposite. It means your bunny is in pain, discomfort, or under stress.

Also, if they want attention or are scared, rabbits will often thump one of their paws. Usually a back one – just like Thumper in the Disney film Bambi!

Author Bio:
This article was written on behalf of helpucover. helpucover is a trading style of Pinnacle Insurance plc, an insurance company who offers pet insurance.