Would you like to communicate with animals?
Whether you realize it or not, you’re already a natural born animal communicator!
And with the right training, it’s possible to know the subtle language of animals and build meaningful relationships with both wild and domestic animals.
Animals communicate with specific body language & vocalizations that convey meaningful information to other nearby animals.
By studying how animals communicate, we can interpret when animals are frightened or defensive in order to be more sensitive to their needs.
But if you’re like most people, then you’re probably not sending the messages you want to send.
For example: Have you ever unintentionally scared an animal without knowing what you did wrong?
This is an extremely common mistake… and it’s a sign that something is off with the overall vibe & body language you’re putting out.
In many cases, you probably aren’t even aware of the messages you’re already communicating, causing you to unintentionally send mixed signals or even threats to the very animals you want to be friends with.
Luckily, this can all be fixed.
So today I’d like to share 10 easy animal communication techniques that anyone can do.
Some of these techniques are focused on helping you become more sensitive to better observe and interpret what animals are saying.
While other techniques are designed to help you adjust your own communication so you can send the messages you want to send, and overall be more trustworthy to animals.
If your goal is to have better relationships with animals, then saddle up and let’s get started!
1. The Honouring Routine To Build Respect & Trust With Animals
The first thing you always need to communicate when it comes to animals is that you are respectful and attentive.
Animals are extremely sensitive to social blunders that most humans just don’t even notice.
Most people are unintentionally (and unwittingly) disrespectful towards animals.
In the case of domestic pets, we might invade their personal space… force them to do or wear things they don’t want to do.
In the case of wild animals, we push the boundaries of their comfort zone and display threatening or unpredictable behavior that causes them to feel scared.
Most people don’t think twice about walking straight towards a bird feeding on the lawn… but when you do this, what you’re really communicating is, “I don’t respect you.”
This lack of respect towards animals will erode trust and color every interaction you have with them.
So the very first thing you always need to communicate to animals is respect:
I see you, I’m reading your cues, and I respect you.”
So how do we build this trust & mutual respect with animals?
For this, we use a little technique called the honouring routine!
We need to:
- Become aware of an animal’s boundaries
- Demonstrate that we’re not going to pressure them
And here’s how to do it.
Step 1: Watch Their Mood
For starters, just practice watching animals from a distance.
In order to communicate respect towards an animal, you have to first become aware of how they act when not under pressure.
Songbirds are great to practice with because they’re so common. They’re sensitive, but they also let you get fairly close when you do this properly.
Simply notice where they go, what they’re doing, what they respond to, and what they seem to ignore.
But don’t try to interact yet. Keep your distance and just watch.
You just want to get a baseline on how the animal acts when you’re not putting pressure on it.
Step 2: Test Their Mood
Step 2 in the honoring routine is to begin gently testing their comfort zone by making yourself a bit more visible to the animal.
- Try standing up and just notice what happens. Does the animal change it’s behavior & overall mood? Or continue in the same pattern as before?
- Try changing your body position to face towards or sideways to the animal.
- Simply monitor whether any of these little changes in your own body language causes the animal to perk up.
- If the animal still seems unaffected, try moving a bit closer.
Make your movements very slow and watch what changes in the animal’s body language or emotional state as you express different movements & feelings.
Step 3: Respond With Respect
Whenever you notice an animal shifting in it’s emotional state, simply back off a little bit and let things settle back to normal.
With practice, you’ll gradually be able to get closer to this animal, without setting off alarm bells.
But the real point here is not to get close. The goal is to simply to build your awareness of an animal’s comfort zone so you can stop violating it.
Whenever you go for walks outside, do your best to practice this honoring routine.
Animals will see your respect, and over time they will feel a lot more comfortable with you.
2. Predictable Movement Projects Safe Vibes To Animals
Being predictable is one of the best ways to help animals feel like they understand you.
This is because the goal of every animal is to feel safe & secure.
Almost 100% of animal communication comes from your overall presence & emotional state.
This means that when you walk around with your head up in the clouds, noisily talking on your cell phone, and not paying attention to where you’re stepping… in animal language this is saying,
I’m unpredictable. I don’t have a plan so I’m just going to walk all over you.”
Animals interpret unpredictable behavior as dangerous, so if you want to have any hope of successful communication, you need to be conscious of the vibes you’re putting off.
The way you feel internally comes out through subtle cues that are hidden in things like body language, tone of voice, movement patterns, etc.
To humans these things tend to drop below conscious awareness, but to animals they stand out like a sore thumb.
An easy way to minimize the fear factor you generate around animals is to be predictable.
- Move slowly & intentionally
- Don’t make any sudden or unpredictable movements.
- Open your senses. Watch, and listen carefully before you step.
- Allow your movements to become more fluid and subtle.
- Let go of whatever thoughts & worries are running through your head
- Allow your emotional state to become relaxed & grounded. Don’t let your heart rate get too fast.
These things might seem incredibly subtle and unnecessary in a human world, but when it comes to animals… it’s a way of communicating that you’re secure, safe & predictable.
Each of the techniques I’m sharing with you here stack together to become more powerful, so if you can combine predictable movement with the honoring routine, you will really notice a dramatic change in how animals treat you.
3. Grounding & Centering For Relaxed Body Language
Another important “master key” to animal communication is grounding & centering yourself.
In the previous example we used predictable movement to put on the outward expression of safety & relaxation.
So here – we’re going even deeper to observe how even your internal emotional state can be sensed and has an effect on the animals around you.
Being intentional about grounding & centering yourself does two things.
- First – It levels out your emotional state so you project a safer and more predictable vibe.
- Second – It enables you to access a more focused state of attention so you can observe and notice more of the subtle cues that animals use to communicate.
Many people are in such a manic & distracted state as they move through life that they can’t tune in with what their senses are telling them.
But when it comes to animals, any shift away from being balanced is going to amplify and lead to unbalanced emotions in the animal.
So for example: If an animal is in fear, it’s important that you remain calm and centered. This will communicate safety and help to de-escalate the situation.
When you get really skilled at this, it’s possible to affect the emotional state of anxious animals by projecting a centered feeling of safety & security.
You’ll be able to notice certain animals being soothed and calmed by your presence.
With domestic animals, this can happen through touch, but even with wild animals it’s possible to help them relax & feel safe simply by embodying a deep state of grounding & centering.
4. Soft Eyes Are More Friendly To Animals
In the animal kingdom, direct & sustained eye contact is used to communicate that you either want to mate or you want to fight.
Neither of these are messages you want to send to animals, so we need a different way of using our eyes.
The “Soft Eyes” technique is a way for you to continue visually observing & gathering information about an animal, without making intense and direct eye contact.
All you have to do is flip your attention from being focused in the very center of your visual field, and start taking in the whole picture.
Notice that you can expand your attention outwards from the center of your awareness, to a much larger sphere of data.
In order to do this, you have to physically relax your eyes, and become more focused on what’s happening in your peripheral vision.
At first, this may feel uncomfortable. You may feel like there are blindspots, darkness or fuzzy areas in the peripheral vision.
Yet with practice, this peripheral vision will become clearer and help you notice things popping into the corners of your eyes that used to be ignored.
This is a much less threatening way to look at animals.
Using soft eyes (also known as owl eyes, splatter vision, or peripheral vision) communicates to nearby animals that you are relaxed & aware.
You’re not oblivious to the animals in your area, but you’re also not putting a creepy amount of focus & attention on them, which helps them feel comfortable with you.
This is really where the benefits of using soft eyes comes from.
Imagine if you were out walking around town, and some random person was following you around staring directly at you… direct eye contact is pretty creepy!
Always remember that animals are even more sensitive to these kinds of creepy social blunders than humans.
So use your soft eyes!
5. Offering Food (Only Works If There’s Trust)
Offering food is very often where people try to start their animal communication journey.
And while this can sometimes lead to good results… This technique doesn’t always work, and it depends heavily on pre-existing conditions.
So here’s what I mean by that…
If you haven’t done the earlier techniques to build trust and respect, it’s possible that the animals simply won’t trust you enough yet to appreciate your offers of food.
They may still cautiously take your food if you leave it somewhere and walk away… but they won’t necessarily realize the food is a gift unless you already have some level of rapport built.
In places where animals are not used to being around humans, like remote wilderness areas… it takes a lot more work to establish this basic level of trust.
And in urban areas, sometimes animals are already so desensitized to humans that being fed by them becomes almost meaningless and assumed.
There’s also the very real potential for this plan to backfire in the case of larger wild animals like raccoons & bears.
You should never feed large animals like raccoons or bears because because they can become a nuisance, and even dangerous.
However this is nonetheless, a technique that can sometimes work to help deepen trust after respect has been established.
I have heard many stories of people using food offerings to build relationships with small animals like crows & squirrels.
Just please be aware that significant amounts of feeding can affect animal behavior and even population densities, which can have long term negative effects on an ecosystem such as increased nest predation by crows.
NOTE: I want to emphasize that of all the techniques in this article – feeding animals is the one that I would least recommend because of the negative consequences it can have on wildlife.
Since feeding animals is such a common activity that many people do, I felt I should mention it here and talk about why this technique is not always as effective as you might think.
And especially in the case of animals larger than a typical backyard songbird, it’s usually a good rule of thumb to simply let them find their own food.
An even more meaningful version of this technique was discovered by one of my nature mentoring distance students.
She was watering plants in a cemetery during an intense heatwave and noticed a crow was trying to drink the water she poured on the plants.
So she filled a dish of water and offered it to the crow, who happily drank.
Ever since then, the Crow has been extremely comfortable with her, and her stories are quite fascinating.
I think one of the important things to realize from this story is that being thirsty during a heatwave was an extreme moment for that Crow.
This wasn’t just some random animal living normal everyday life.
The Crow was desperate for water, so I think the timing is important, and it enabled her to make a connection that wouldn’t have otherwise happened.
6. Connecting Visual With Auditory Communication
One of the biggest secrets to unlock what animals are saying is connecting your visual sense with your sense of hearing.
What this means is it’s much easier to interpret animal communication when you have BOTH a visual component AND and an auditory component.
I sometimes receive emails from people who want me to tell them what a particular gesture made by an animal means, without any other context for the behavior.
Or on the other side they want to know “What does this call mean?”, without any behavioral context or associated body language to get us started.
Now it’s important to realize…
You will be vastly more successful at knowing what animals are communicating when you can BOTH see the animal AND hear the animal at the same time.
Just like any new skill, you need to walk before you can run.
So you’ll be much more successful when you start with the easiest examples that include both auditory and visual cues at the same time.
When you can hear a call AND see the behavior, you just have more information to work with.
This doesn’t mean that calls & body language don’t have meaning by themselves… but for beginners, you should start by focusing on messages that have both a visual component and an auditory component.
Whenever you hear a vocalization, the first thing you should do is see if you can spot the animal and watch it while it makes that call.
Don’t make things difficult for yourself by starting with extremely elusive or quiet animals.
The best teachers of how to interpret animal communication are songbirds because they’re easy to watch, and they’re extremely expressive vocally.
Even if your plan is eventually to apply the lessons to mammals, you will make much faster progress if you start with bird language.
I’ve written a lot about bird language in my other articles, and in my online bird language course.
7. The 90/10 Method for Animal Empathy & Intuition
In the early stages of your animal communication journey, most of your discoveries will come from direct observation of physical things.
This includes anything you can directly see, hear, feel & quantify, such as:
- Body language
- Eye contact
- Patterns of movement
- Pauses and Rhythms In Feeding Patterns
- Alarm Calls
- Tail Pumps
- Ear Movements
- Body Positions & Postures
- Overall Emotional State or “Edginess”
These physical observations will give you a pretty good picture of what’s going on generally with that animal.
It provides the essential context for you to make sense of what that animal might be saying, and also to track the effect you are having on that animal.
But as you progress further along your learning journey, you’ll begin to notice there are times when you can almost feel in your own body what other animals are feeling.
There are moments when a feeling, or an idea, or random thoughts will hit you, without knowing why they’re there.
Now often these random mental impressions are just that. They’re just miscellaneous data floating through your mind with no actual basis in reality.
But sometimes these impressions have useful things to tell you.
Somewhere on a subconscious level, your mind is tracking more subtle patterns of communication, that you can’t quite trace back to a physical observation.
These are your gut feelings & instincts.
The highest level of animal communication comes when you can use both the physical observation, alongside your intuition.
So the 90/10 method is simply a way of balancing your inner and outer awareness to help you discover the conscious use of these more subtle subconscious messages… while still being grounded in reality.
It means you focus 90% of your attention externally to stay grounded in your senses and observe quantifiable things about animals.
While that extra 10% can stay free to observe your inner world.
You need to be careful not to get too attached to the idea of developing your intuition.
A lot of people are in a rush to develop this skill because they believe it’s superior or “more spiritual” than observing body language.
But if you skip the physical observation part and ignore what your senses are telling you, then the accuracy of your intuition will be extremely low.
Empathy doesn’t just come out of the blue.
But in my experience, to be the best possible animal communicator, you need both intuition AND physical skills.
Don’t be in a rush to judge what an animal is feeling. Just open your senses and let things percolate into you. In moments you might get little feelings or just a sense of what’s going on.
Even then, let it steep and continue gathering more information.
You’ll get the greatest success when you can use empathy to get the general feeling, and then use physical observation skills to confirm and support your impressions.
Keep 90% of your awareness external, and keep 10% free to monitor gut feelings, mind’s eye flashes, etc.
8. Wildlife Tracking
While this may not seem like a direct animal communication technique, wildlife tracking is actually one of the best ways to become a more skilled animal communicator.
This is because tracking is a sensory ability that depends on making subtle observations about animals… sound familiar?
Tracking is not just about identifying tracks on the ground. To really be a good tracker, you also need to study animal behavior, vocalizations, body language, etc.
In fact, I personally don’t mark much difference between animal communication & wildlife tracking simply because there’s so much overlap.
The more you know about how and why animals live their lives, the easier it is to understand their communication.
In fact, ALL the best animal communicators I’ve ever met were also excellent trackers.
The more you can think like an animal, the easier it is to communicate like an animal and understand what they are communicating.
9. Sit Spot
The sit spot is a great exercise to help you actually practice all the ideas and techniques we’ve been exploring on this page.
A sit spot is simply a favorite place in nature that you visit over and over again to practice tuning in, and connecting with the local plants, trees & animals.
I outlined this technique in great detail in my complete guide to using a sit spot in nature.
In this case, it’s useful to know that you can custom tailor your sit spot practice towards practicing animal communication techniques.
Here’s a basic outline of how that would work:
- Walk to your spot consciously, being careful not to scare animals along the way. Practice your predictable movement, soft eyes & honouring routine while you walk.
- When you get to your spot, sit down and really focus on grounding & centering yourself. See how deeply you can engage your soft eyes. Watch & listen to the birds & animals around you. Track their behavior and see if you can find clues about what they might be saying.
- Also practice observing your feelings, pay attention to the mood of the landscape & notice what shows up internally (without losing your connection to the outside world!)
- When you’re finished, head home and journal about what you’re observing and learning.
Following these 4 steps, every day if possible, like a quiet time of meditation will help you to restore mental clarity & function better in daily life, while stretching your animal communication skills in all the key areas of competence.
Within a few weeks or months of practice, your relationship with animals will never be the same again.
10. Journal Your Animal Communication Experiences
One of the most important habits to continually make new discoveries about animal communication is journaling and processing your experiences.
Whenever you have a moment of connection with an animal, or if you observe some fascinating behavior that helps reveal a deeper story, simply write it down and journal about it!
Journaling will help you reinforce the teaching moments and lessons to help you be a better animal communicator.
Here’s a simple example from a recent animal communication journal I created:
April 18th – I watched a solitary blue jay repeatedly making a wheedle wheedle call, and looking downwards, from 15 feet up in the balsam fir tree, near where I suspect the Robins have their nest.
He flew down to get a closer look and the female popped out of the bushes to chase the Jay away. She didn’t make any sound but was quite aggressive.
I had never noticed the wheedle call being used in this context before, but now I’m curious if it might sometimes be a way for blue jays to help each other identify nests.”
Many people after making an observation like this, would simply move on with their day as though nothing happened.
But you would be surprised how easy it is to forget and blank out key details of an experience like this if you don’t have some way of reinforcing the memory.
I have many times witnessed my own nature students completely blank out and forget entire chunks of memory simply because they got distracted and never took time to reflect about their experiences with animals.
Notice the pattern of my journal above…
- Make an observation (Wheedle wheedle call)
- Record my insights (Associated with nest identification)
- Look to the future (Can I spot this again in a similar context?)
It’s so simple you can do this in 5 minutes, and this technique can really become the foundation of a solid animal communication practice routine.
In fact, I believe journaling is so important that I created an entire step-by-step process to help my nature students unpack & debrief the major insights from every experience they have outside.
It’s called the nature memory journal, and you can grab a copy here for just 7$ if you’re interested…
Here’s a list of some great topics you should observe and journal about if you want to become a better animal communicator:
- What are you observing about animal body language? (Eye contact, gestures, feeding rhythms, etc.)
- What are you observing about animal vocalizations?
- What can you notice about how animals interact with each other?
- What can you notice about how animals interact with you?
- How is your own state of mind affecting nearby animals?
- What are the conditions under which animals are scared of you?
- When are they comfortable with you?
- How do you feel internally when your mind is grounded & centered?
- How does using “soft eyes” change your emotional state?
- When do you experience gut feelings or mental impressions?
With a bit of practice using the techniques outlined in this article, you will be able to dramatically shift your relationship with animals.
First, you will become more sensitive to the subtle ways that animals send and receive messages.
Next, you’ll learn to pull back your disturbance and eliminate the ways you unintentionally violate the comfort zones of animals.
Finally, you’ll start to pick up on the core messages animals are broadcasting to the world, and gain a very deep & specific understanding of what animals are actually saying.
Let me know what you discover out there!
Brian, This article was very helpful. The idea of just barging into an outdoor habitat was eye-opening. I’ve done this when walking outside with my dog (she passed away – no plans for any other pets).
Your suggestion of integrated focus of hearing along with seeing is so easy to forget. There are times in sitting out on the porch I just enjoy the sounds of the birds settling down for the evening and not listening with purpose. Unfortunately, that habit makes it hard to watch as well as listen when trying to learn about them.
Your point of predictability is an easy one for me, but there are times when my grandchildren visit, with their attendant running and shouting outside. Such behavior, thankfully, doesn’t seem to affect the birds’ trust of my slow, methodical movements when alone.
As to being grounded and centered, that was learned when teaching. Bringing one’s own issues into a classroom has an immediate influence on the students’ behavior. Taking the time to ‘go within’ gives a wealth of harmony with them. With animals’ ability to focus so intently, it seems that the effect on them would be seen even more quickly.
Lastly, your suggestion about journalling has been an aspect of my entire life, so applying it to my observations of Nature is most welcome. It frequently creates new ideas and deeper questioning of what was experienced.
This article’s link to ‘How Does Animal Communication Work?’ is one I intend to explore very soon, as well as those you highlighted in your conclusion. Thank you so much for them all.
Brian Mertins says
Thanks for sharing this Grace! I love how thoughtful and reflective you are. You have so many great observations.
The layering of sensory awareness with pure enjoyment gets a lot easier with practice.
At first like you pointed out, it does take a bit of focus & attention to watch, listen, center and enjoy all the same time.
Sometimes it feels like work, but if you keep practicing, the enjoyment comes back in much greater amounts because you build a new habit of natural openness.
It’s good to play with both, so you might challenge yourself for a couple weeks, then simply enjoy the fruited expansion of your awareness for a couple weeks, then repeat and each cycle will go deeper 🙂