How Do Animals Communicate With Each Other?
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.