For as close as many of us feel to our furry friends, you’d think they’d be able to speak full sentences letting us know how they feel. The truth, though, is that we have to rely on a set of non-verbal cues to understand what our pets are feeling. We often pay close attention to signs of stress, anxiety, and pain — we never want our pets to suffer, of course — but what about signs of happiness? Are there ways to tell if your pet is happy? Indeed, there are, and being able to spot them is a great way to make yourself feel happy, too. Here are some of the signs your animal family members are filled with joy.
- They wag their tail. This is a surefire way to tell if your canine companion is filled with glee! A happy, excited pup will wag its tail vigorously every time something excites them, whether it’s you arriving home or getting a fun new chew toy to play with. Happy pups hold their tails high while wagging.
- They purr. A simple way to read your kitty’s mind is to see if they start purring when you’re petting them or they’re lying near you. The experts say that cats purr as a form of communication in positive social situations, such as when they’re relaxed and enjoying your company.
- They eat a healthy meal. One of the most obvious signs that a pet is unhappy or sick is a change in appetite, especially a loss of desire to eat. When your pup or kitty chows down their meals or their favorite all natural treats, it means that they’re feeling happy, healthy, and safe in their environment.
- They want to run or go for walks. An easy way to excite high-energy pets is to show them the leash and say their favorite four-letter word. You’ll be able to tell if your pup is happy if you tell them it’s time for a walk and they respond by jumping, wagging their tail, or running in circles.
- They bring you a toy or their prized dog chew treat. Pets are not unlike humans in the sense that their playfulness is often a direct representation of their mood. If your dog is playful and brings you a toy, it’s a sign that he’s cheerful and wants to play.
- They approach you when you come home. Most pets are full of glee when their owners return home, and you can tell by the way they respond to seeing you walk through the door. Wagging, running, jumping, even whining — these are all signs your pup is happy. Your cat will show you she’s pleased with your return in a more subdued way, like by rubbing your shin.
- They nuzzle their head into you. Pet-lovers know the pure joy of an affectionate kitty or happy pup rubbing their soft fur on your face and neck. Physical closeness is a sign that your pet is comfortable and content.
- They play with other pets. Just like humans, it’s only natural for animals to want to play with their peers. You can tell your pets are happy when they engage with other pets, running and playing together.
- They lean into you with their body weight. Some pet-owners call it the “love lean.” Whatever you call it, you know that feeling of your animal putting its entire body weight into you means your four-legged friends are filled with joy.
- They kiss you. Yes, when your dog or cat licks you, it means they’re showing affection and you can take that as yet another sign of their happiness! Puppy and kitty kisses can come in all forms all over the body, including the hands, face, and arms. When your animal gives you a little lick, it may also signify that they need a little attention and that they’re happy to be with you.
- They take long naps. Like a healthy appetite, a good sleep pattern signifies that your pet is healthy and feels safe at home. Relaxed, happy pets will often sleep deeply, sometimes snoring and breathing heavily as they drift off.
- They show signs of being relaxed. Animals exhibit physical signs of feeling relaxed and happy. For dogs, it’s those signature floppy ears and a wagging or relaxed tail. On the other hand, a stressed or unhappy dog will have perky ears and may pace, drool, or pant. Happy cats show physical signs by keeping a flat, relaxed back and breathing in a calm, measured manner.
- They want to be petted. If your pet is constantly vying for your attention and always wants plenty of petting sessions and snuggles, you can go ahead and assume that they’re happy to be around you!
- They vocalize it. Some animals are more vocal than others, but those who tend to use their voice a lot will let you know through barks, whimpers, and meows that they’re happy to see you. You can tell that these are happy sounds if they accompany some of the other happiness indicators above.
- They listen to you. Pets with behavior problems and those who tend to err on the disobedient side may be struggling with a more serious issue, like depression or anxiety. On the other hand, happy pets tend to listen well, learn quickly, and want to please their owners. If your pets don’t listen or regularly exhibit behaviors of destruction in the house, be sure to talk openly with your vet to rule out any underlying conditions.
Speaking Your Pet’s Language
One of the most important ways to care for your beastly bestie is to learn to speak their language. Unfortunately, our furry family members don’t speak English — at least not enough to tell us everything they need to say — so it’s up to you to learn their communication style. Although all pets are different, most owners find that they’re able to learn their pet’s special cues over time, you just have to make sure you’re paying close attention.