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Pet Lady Article

Body Language

2/14/06

 

Q:Someone told me I shouldnít smile at my dog because the dog may attack me.Is that true?

 

A:The person is referring to dog body language.A show of teeth is a threat when dogs do it to each other.It sends the message that the dog is not happy with the situation and may attack if the other dog approaches.Some people feel that dogs will observe a human smile in the same way.However, dogs are pretty clever creatures.If they live with humans, they soon learn that when a human bears their teeth good things happen.When we smile at our dogs, we usually call them to us, stroke them, give them treats, and generally talk in a happy voice.Dogs quickly discover that human body language means something totally different.If a strange dog is approaching you outside, itís best not to look at the dog and smile.Staring at a dog is definitely a challenge and this dog may not have experienced a human smile as a good thing.Itís best to divert your eyes, look to the ground, donít move, and keep a dead-pan face. If you are being approached by your own dogs, though, you can talk to them in a happy voice, toss treats, and smile away.Your dogs will soon learn that smiling is a good thing, and they may even appear to smile back. They donít possess the facial muscles to smile as a human does, but their chin drops in a relaxed position with the tongue hanging slightly out when they are happy.Their tail smiles by wagging in a low sweeping motion with often the whole rear-end wiggling with it.Dogs and humans can develop their own way of communicating by associating good things with certain actions.So smile away and let your dog know that a show of human teeth is a wonderful thing indeed.

 

Q:My cat never purred much when she was younger, but now that sheís 15 sheís started to purr all the time.Any clue as to what turned on her motor all of a sudden?

 

A:Cats do not always purr out of contentment.You may want to get your cat to the vet and have her checked out.Sometimes cats will purr when they are in pain.At 15, your cat may be experiencing some arthritis or perhaps has a urinary tract infection.I would get her to the vet to be on the safe side.Cats also will purr when anxious.If changes have been made in the household, your cat may be reacting to those changes.Sometimes with older animals it can be something as simple as a new piece of furniture moved into their territory.Think if anything new has happened in the houseópeople, schedule changes, items.If you do have a change, you can help your cat accept it by making positive things happen in reference to that change.If itís a new person in the house, have that person feed the cat.Put treats around the person as they sit still on the floor.If itís a piece of furniture, feed the cat near the furniture.Play with the cat near the new item.When positive things happen around new things, those items/people become really cool to have around.If no physical problem is found and no change in the environment has occurred, then perhaps your cat has decided that the golden years are wonderful, and sheís sitting back, watching the world go by, and purring to let everyone know that life is good.

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