(It’s not what you think!)
by Deb Brosnan, owner of Wholistic Animals Communication
This is the #1 question I am asked. You would think it’s a simple answer right? More dog treats, more squirrels and birds to chase. A pasture buddy. Yes, sometimes. But mostly they need something else.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Do you treat your pet like a baby? (Baby talk or high pitched voice?)
- Do you treat them like a pal? ‘Blackie didn’t mean to push me into the stall wall.’ (Psst, yes, Blackie did…)
- Do you get frustrated because it seems they act this way on purpose?
If you answered yes to any of those questions above, CONGRATULATIONS! You are aware! That is excellent. Let’s go through ways you can make everyone’s life happier. They aren’t epic changes either.
#1 – High-pitched voices, baby talk and excited energy.
Cats: A high pitched squeaky voice is the same vocalization as a chirping bird and a squeaky mouse. You are triggering their predatory instincts.
Dogs: You raise your voice and raise your energy. The energy of excitement is not where dogs listen or think from. Listening and behaving goes out the door in this heightened state. Instead of going for a walk, you go for a drag behind them.
Horses: A high pitched voice is similar to a whinny for a missing friend, or being in a new situation, etc. It’s a stress vocalization. High alert. Also, when you use this voice, your body changes to a higher energy. Not the energy horses work well with. They are distracted. Or worse, annoyed…and Blackie just squished you into the wall again.
# 2 – Do you treat them like your pal?
This is a situation that many confuse with partnership. The difference is – the line between leader and follower is confused for both you and your pet. You want to be their friend instead of their leader. But, what animals require is a balanced leader who brings out the best in everyone. Leadership is not bossing and bullying. Aggression is a challenge to fight. Start with these and you lose.
Domestic animals who are shown (usually accidentally) that their size, teeth, claws or demeanor give them the upper hand with humans can prove devastating to everyone’s safety. (If this is your dynamic call a professional for help immediately.) So how do you become the balanced leader and not the pal?
Take care of yourself. Yes, take care of yourself FIRST. This is the most important thing you need to do immediately. The leader takes care of themselves first. (Remember the flight attendants training…put your mask on first, then help others.) By doing so, you are able to take care of your family, et al., in a more stable, successful way. Exercise, eat healthy meals that nourish your body. Schedule time for yourself to relax. Whether that is taking a nap, a walk, a yoga class, etc.
Quiet your mind. Self-care brings you to a different energetic level. It removes reactivity and replaced it with balance. What you will and won’t allow will shift and change in all aspects of your life, not just the relationship with your pet. Your energy (that everyone perceives, from your family, pet or boss at work) is not frenzied, rushed or unstable. Everyone feels it and they respond by changing their energy for the better as well. This is the next most important thing after taking care of yourself… Be clear in your expectations of your pet.
Make sure you have the TIME to spend working with them. You cannot reset boundaries when you have a limited amount of time to accomplish it. That just sets you up for a fight, and failure. It may take you all of 5 minutes. It may take you an hour the first time, or even longer. But you cannot be rushed. If you start to become annoyed, bored or frustrated. Take some deep breaths while keeping your eyes closed. Bring yourself back to where you were grounded, expansive and focused.
Start again. Don’t take advice while you are working with your pet. This is time for you and Fido to reset your boundaries. Many a well-meaning person tries to tell you what you’re doing wrong. Thank them for offering their help,.but do both you and your pet a favor and hire a professional if you need more help. Once you get the behavior you are asking for…PRAISE AND QUIT! QUIT, QUIT, QUIT, QUIT, QUIT!!! I cannot say this enough. Stop when you receive what you have asked for (or more than you asked for). Don’t keep trying to repeat it. It will backfire. Praise them and be proud of yourself too!
#3 – Do you get upset when your animals act the opposite way you want?
Do you get angry or upset if they act in a way you don’t want them to?
You get yourself ready to work with your pet. You’re in the right mindset. You’ve set up time to work with your pet and… The little bugger knows what you’re up to and had a double serving of stubborn with their kibble. UGH! After several attempts, you start to get annoyed. Then you think that ‘nice’ isn’t working. Maybe try a little alpha leadership… Nope. You walk away thinking you have failed…you have not.
When you begin to work with your pet, are you thinking (or visualizing) in your mind, what you want to have happen or what you don’t want to happen? Animals are completely aware of what we are thinking or visualizing in our minds. Humans tend to not pay attention to their thoughts. When you say to your dog. “WHY do you keep peeing on the rug?!” You are seeing them peeing on the rug, in your mind right? The dog is seeing what you are visualizing and is completely confused as to why you are yelling. He just did what you showed him. Yes, it may seem too simple. But animals are very telepathic and pick up on pictures we see in our minds more than words.
SEE the behavior or end result you want to have happen. Then FEEL the energy of pride, joy and excitement as you visualize your pet doing what you asked correctly… The animal begins to change. Some change slowly. Some seem to change their personality in the blink of an eye. Because in fact, they want to be as calm and happy as you want them to be.
About the Author
Deb specializes in working with clients to create and maintain end-to-end harmony with their pets. She helps open the doors to moving beyond difficult behaviors. A licensed riding instructor, equine trainer and clinician, she is licensed and insured with over 20 years experience.