Monthly Archives:March 2017

7 Signs Your Pet Actually Understands You

01 Mar 17
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There’s a good chance the title of man’s best friend isn’t only reserved for your family dog.  No matter whether you like to snuggle up with your fuzzy feline or spend your afternoons riding your favorite horse, there are no rules about what creature can be your best friend. But part of what brings you and your pet so close together is the unspoken communication that occurs between you. You may be the only one actually saying words, but chances are your pet understands exactly what you’re trying to say. Would you know how to tell if your pet truly understands you?

There’s a lot more to animal communication than you may realize. Whether you’re bonding with horses, dogs, birds, chickens, pigs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, rats, or even fish, the ability to communicate in some form is entirely possible. Plus, in most cases that communication isn’t just you speaking to your pet. There are non-verbal forms of communication as well. Additionally, what a lot of people don’t realize is that your pet is likely communicating with you as well. Even without barks, purrs, or neighs, there’s a good chance your pet is communicating a whole lot to you, without even making a sound.

To get a better idea of just how much your pet understands and loves you, check out the list below. Does your best friend engage in any of the following behaviors? If so, there’s a good chance your pet totally gets you!

1. They seem to “pay attention” when you speak

Do you have to shout or clap your hands just to get your pet to pay attention? Or do they turn and look your way when they hear your voice? If you pet seems to be all ears when you speak, that’s a good sign your pet has a good understanding of its owner.

2. They follow you around

3. They stare at you

4. They snuggle up close to you, especially when you’re feeling down

5. They expose their belly

6. They respond with appropriate body language

Over at “Modern Dog Magazine” it was explained that because dogs have a language of communication unique to them,  they may use sounds but most of their communication is sent with body language like facial expressions and body postures. Dogs aren’t the only pets that use body language as a way to communicate. In some way, just about all animals do!

Pay attention to your pets’ body language in specific situations and notice consistencies. There’s a good chance they appear very excited and happy upon seeing you. There’s also a good chance they appear to cower or hide when they feel threatened or scared. If you’re personally struggling emotionally, notice how you pet reacts. If their body language is appropriate to your personal situation, that’s a great sign you have one incredibly understanding pet!

7. Your pet hates when you leave

When you make an effort to pack up before heading out the door, notice whether your pets’ behavior changes. Do they suddenly run and hide? Do they bury themselves in your suitcase? Do they follow you to the door? Is there anything that tugs at your heart strings more than when your pet sits at the front door or window and watches as you pull out of the driveway? If your furry friend does one or more of those things, there’s a good chance they’re telling you “please don’t go!”

To combat feelings of separation anxiety, try to switch up your routine before leaving each day. Also make sure your pet is getting plenty of exercise and attention. Of course, be sure to give them a proper good-bye as well, even if it’s just a quick pet on the head.

 

 

 

 

Can animals really understand human communication?

01 Mar 17
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Research has finally begun to show what pet owners have been saying for years: my pet understands when I talk to it. While it’s mostly dog and cat owners that claim their dog or cat understands them, research not only confirms that statement – to an extent – but it also shows that it’s not just domesticated animals that show this ability. On the other hand, any animal, no matter how sophisticated or intelligent, will not be able to understand human communication without training with an animal whisperer.

Today, we will be taking a look at a few cases where horses, cats, and dogs, demonstrated the ability to understand human communication.

Horses were taught to signal temperature

Horses have been used in agriculture, sport, and other ways for centuries. Now, they seem ready to join the group of intelligent animals that can communicate by pointing at symbols.

A Norwegian horse breeder took on the task to teach the horses how to show whether they needed a blanket or not. During training, the horses were shown the difference between the three symbols on the board. The horses were praised and given a treat for each choice they made, and afterward, the horses were able to communicate their preference. By touching their muzzles to the board, the horses would communicate whether they were cold and needed a blanket, whether they were fine or whether they wanted the blanket off.

While the fact that the horses got trained isn’t that surprising, considering we’ve been training horses for various tasks for centuries, the training shows that horses can actually understand human communication much better than we previously thought.

Cats really do understand everything you say – but they don’t show it

The world today seems to be in a constant disagreement over which is the superior species: cats or dogs? One thing is for sure, the main behavioral difference between cats and dogs is that dogs can be trained, while cats aren’t. On the other hand, cat owners keep claiming that cats do understand, and now science has proven it.

Researchers from the University of Tokyo studied cats’ behavior. During the study, the pet cats heard several different voices without being able to see who was talking. The researchers discovered that the cats showed signs of recognizing their owners’ voices and reacted to them, even if they weren’t able to see their owners.

It led to the possibility that cats might actually understand more than dogs – but they don’t show it as a survival method. Any cat owner will tell you that when a cat is sick, injured, or generally not feeling well, they tend to hide until they feel better. That happens because in the wild, being sick can be seen as a weakness and attract predators, so cats have learned not show when they’re not feeling well. As an extension, it’s quite possible that your cats really does understand everything you say. They just hide it as a means of survival.

Dogs are just as intelligent as toddlers

Have you ever heard of Rico, the wonder collie?

Collies are among the brightest dog species. Originally raised as farm animals, collies have a greater intelligence than the average dog, and they excellently perform various tasks when trained. As such, it is not a surprise that Rico the wonder dog was able to remember and distinguish between 200 words – many of which were objects.

However, unlike cats, that seem to grasp human language and communication naturally, Rico and other wonder dogs were trained. Rico’s owner would say the name of the object – toy, banana, Frisbee – and Rico would wander around the house until he found and fetched said object. According to the study, Rico began fetching objects when he was ten months old, and he continues learning new words with relative ease.

While training is important, dogs can grasp the meaning of action words: sit, stay, lie down, etc. Moreover, while it’s not easy to train dogs, it can be done, but the truth goes a bit deeper.

In a different study, several dogs showed three distinct things. First, they were able to recognize praise told in a positive tone of voice. Second, when they heard praising words in a normal tone without the positive tone, they didn’t react. Third, they did respond to other words spoken in a positive tone, but they reacted the strongest when they heard praise in an upbeat tone. In other words, when you say “Good dog!” in a happy voice, your dog understands and feels as if you’ve given them a treat.

How communication works – and what dogs showed during the study

When we communicate with another person, both sides of our brain are working. The left side of our brains detects the words that are being said, while the right side of our brains flare as we analyze how something was said – emotion, inflection, and meaning.

During the study, the dogs’ brains were scanned, and it was recorded which side of their brain was active when the researchers spoke to them.

The study showed that dogs processed human speech much in the same way as humans do. When the dogs heard a familiar praise spoken in a happy tone of voice, both sides of their brain flared up in recognition. On the other hand, when they only heard the words without the happy emotion behind it, only the left side of their brain was active as they recognized the words. Also, when the dogs heard an unfamiliar praise in a friendly tone, only the right side of the brain was active – they knew the tone, but the dogs did not show any sign that they were affected by the words. Only when both sides of their brain flared up in recognition did the dogs demonstrate that they were happy hearing the words.

In conclusion, while wild animals, no matter which species, might be able to recognize and distinguish human communication and the human voice, individual species can be taught to do this. In fact, domesticated animals like cats, dogs, horses, even pigs and other farm animals as well, might be even easier to train due to their domestication.