How Do Animals Communicate With Each Other?

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Animals communicate mostly by body language and sometimes by vocalization. If you have ever seen a foal smacking its lips and making chewing motions to another horse that is not its mother, what you see is the foal saying "I am just a helpless baby and no threat to you, please don't hurt me". Some older horses will do this if they think another horse is being threatening and they do not want to fight, or if they wish to make friends with a strange horse. Some trainers make use of this when they are lunging a horse in the round pen, especially a rebellious young horse. They run the horse in circles waiting for the lip smacking to tell them the horse is asking to stop, then they stop and reward the horse, then start over again. This is their way of gaining the horses trust and cooperation in its training.

Animals use the same body language when communicating with us as they do when communicating with each other. When you are riding or working with a horse, if he is relaxed and enjoying himself, his body will be relaxed and flowing freely, his ears on you or floppy unless something has caught his attention. If he is not relaxed, and the workout is causing discomfort, fear or pain, he will be tensed up with his tail tucked in close and his ears back but not flat. If he is angry his ears will be flat back and his lips look somewhat pinched closed.

If a cat wants to express their affection for you, they will slowly close their eyes halfway then open them again, looking directly at you. In most cases, if you do the same back, you will get a response. The response I usually get is them jumping up and running over to head but me. I have called a cat to me using the sound a mother cat makes to call her kittens to her. I have scolded naughty kittens using a hiss or if that doesn't work, using that vocal growl you hear when two cats are fixing to fight. When I use this sound I am telling the kitten what they are doing is very dangerous or that danger is near, and they immediately stop what they are doing and look around while they slink to a place of safety.

Dogs communicate fear by flattening their ears and tucking in their tails. If the dog feels threatened and cornered he will also growl warning the one he fears away. If dog wants to play, either with you or another dog, they will slap their front legs flat on the ground with their rump in the air and the tail wagging. If you do this your dog will understand you want to play.

If you watch any animal long enough you can pick up the body language and learn its meanings. It is much better if you can catch them in their natural environment with others of their species and when they do not know you are there.

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Comments 12 comments

Gusser 4 years ago

Horses stomp their hooves in long and short stomps. It's called Horse Code


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tlmcgaa70 4 years ago from south dakota, usa Author

i am going to assume you are making a joke. i have never heard of this and a horse can only stomp one way, it may be a soft stomp of slight irritation or a hard stomp of anger, but it is still just one stomp.

thank you for stopping by to read and comment, and have a great day.


Gusser 4 years ago

When horses take over the earth, they will put up poles & wires to send Horse Code .


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tlmcgaa70 4 years ago from south dakota, usa Author

you are funny


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

I believe that dogs communicate with other dogs and that's OK with me. But when my dog invites her friends over to watch me when I exercise, that's going too far! Have you ever seen a dog laugh? Mine does!


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tlmcgaa70 4 years ago from south dakota, usa Author

oh my, that is cute. yes i do believe dogs laugh and so do cats, i have seen both. but your dog is probably just laughing WITH you and not AT you, she loves you so much she is using her laughter to encourage you, lol.


bac2basics profile image

bac2basics 3 years ago from Spain

Hi TLm. I am very interested in animals and love watching trainers using what is now termed " Whispering " techniques. Monty Roberts and Cesar Millan being just two. I find it amazing that they can calm and tame an out of control animal by knowing how to speak to the animal in it´s own ( Body) language. Nice hub and voted up :)


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tlmcgaa70 3 years ago from south dakota, usa Author

hello bac2basics...it definitely makes training any animal easier and more rewarding when you can communicate with that animal in a way it actually understands. and the big benefit is you get an animal that trusts you and enjoys working with you. thanks for reading, commenting and voting...have a great day.


peachpurple profile image

peachpurple 3 years ago from Home Sweet Home

wonderful hub about animals communication. Something that I learnt today about horses. I have a pet cat which loves to purr and go around my legs when she is happy or wanted some food. Guess dogs are easier to see the happiness. Voted up


tlmcgaa70 profile image

tlmcgaa70 3 years ago from south dakota, usa Author

hello Peachpurple...i think dogs are just, shall we say, more enthusiastic in expressing their happiness, but for me it is easy to see when my cats are happy and when they arent. my cats, all 15 of them, are highly affectionate, and they are happiest when they are near me, preferably ON me. you have a good, solid relationship with your kitty. also, im glad to have helped you understand horses better. thank you for reading and commenting. have a great day.


snerfu profile image

snerfu 2 years ago from Madurai, India

Very interesting to hear about this level of communication. Nice article.


tlmcgaa70 profile image

tlmcgaa70 2 years ago from south dakota, usa Author

thank you, i am glad you enjoyed it, we can learn a lot by watching the animals around us...have a nice day.

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