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In this next section, we're going to get into pet behaviors for you to monitor at home, how to understand what's normal for your pet, how to get your pet's vital signs, and a few important odds and ends all designed to help you understand your pet better. However, in this particular lesson, we're going to get into the importance of knowing your pet.

At the end of the lesson, we'll provide you with a Word about decoding your dog's behaviors, which includes listening, watching, and more, all designed to help you better understand your canine companions.

Pro Tip #1: It's important to remember, especially after you've completed this course, that you know your pet better than anyone, even your vet. Keep this in mind and don't shy away from this fact. It could be really important at some point.

What is Normal for Your Pet?

It's really important that you are able to recognize and identify problems with your pet, or what's not normal. But before doing that, you'll need to understand what is normal.

Warning: Consider this the before it's too late warning. By their very nature, pets will try to hide things from you. Sometimes, they're able to do this for a long time, until the thing they're hiding becomes really severe.

Learn to notice the subtle changes in your pets. If you're able to pick up on any of these, you'll be better able to identify problems earlier and before they reach that severe stage. Doing so will also help you alert your veterinarian of what the problem might be. (Remember, you know your pet better than anyone.)

Unfortunately, even the most observant pet owners can sometimes miss these subtle changes or not understand the significance of them. Don't be a constant worrier, but you also shouldn't lull yourself into thinking everything is always fine.

Knowing what's normal with your pet is absolutely key to being able to identify what's wrong. It's also key in ensuring that your pets live long and healthy lives.

A Word About Decoding Your Dog's Behaviors

Do you speak Dog? Are you sometimes (or even often) confused by your dog's communication attempts? Do you even recognize your dog's actions as communication attempts? Don't worry, we don't expect you to speak dog, and not speaking/decoding this language is more common than you might realize.

The bottom line is this: Really understanding your dog involves listening, watching, and more.

While there are a variety of dog breeds, sizes, and temperaments, they're all still members of the same species. And as such, those differences tend to disappear when they're trying to communicate with us humans.

How do dogs communicate with us? Typically, they do this through body language – posture, tail position and movement, actions, with their eyes, etc. The problem is that we humans often misinterpret their signals.

There are approximately 100 postures, expressions, sounds, and actions that a dog uses to communicate with us. In her book – What Dogs Want: A Visual Guide to Understanding Your Dog's Every Move – master instructor Arden Moore decodes all 100 of these signals.

In this important blog post – Decoding D-O-G-S – Moore decodes five of the most important signals your dog might use as a way of communicating what's really going on. Check it out and see if you're ability to speak Dog improves as a result.