Wouldn’t it be nice if every encounter with our animals was easy, harmonious, and peaceful? If every request we make of our pets is followed exactly as we expect? Our animals would love nothing more than to execute without question every single command and request we make of them. Seriously! We humans are a big factor, however, in how well our animals are able to respond to our requests.
Consider a typical interaction with your pet. Do your pets listen the moment you speak to them, and immediately attempt to follow your expectation? Or do they listen attentively but with a quizzical look? Now consider the actual words you use in a typical interaction, and the intention behind those words. Are you clear and direct with what you expect?
Animals respond much more readily to positive commands. When setting an expectation with your animals, attempt to frame the command in a positive manner. Keep in mind that as we are saying the words, we can’t help but to envision the scenario we are commenting on. Our words become a vision in our minds which our animals pick up on. Viola – animal communication in it’s most simple form!
Try this exercise. For each of the statements or commands below, notice what energy, emotion, and feelings are present (some may be subtle) and what reading the statement brings up – the little visions in your mind – as you experience each.
“Fido, stop picking on Miss Kitty right now! Stop it!” or “Fido, come over here and keep me company and let Miss Kitty have some peaceful time.” Do you feel the difference in emotion and intention? With the first statement, did the mental pictures in your mind relate to the experience of chaos and a frightened cat trying to hide from a rambunctious dog? Perhaps the second statement brought up visions of a well-behaved dog joyfully coming toward you and the long-term peaceful, harmonious co-existence of your two beloved animal companions.
Now the next set of commands; “Fluffy, do not use the sofa as your scratching post ever, ever, never!” or “Fluffy, come and use the very special scratching post that I got just for you. This is where I always want you to exercise your claws, and you can use this post whenever you want.” Not only are the second commands in each of these examples more pleasant for you, the animal, and others who may be witnessing the exchange, but animals can more quickly process what you are asking of them when stated in a way to explain what you want them to do, not what you don’t want them to do. Give them clear direction and redirection away from the offending behavior and toward what the replacement behavior should be.
When my dad was teaching me to ride long ago, I remember him telling me to simply glance in the direction that I wanted to go, and the horse would start to move in that direction. I was astounded that often this really did work. He explained that the movement of me turning my head in a particular direction caused a subtle shift in the reins and my body position and gave the horse the clue of where I wanted to go. True enough, but that explanation didn’t help when I experimented, with all my might, to only move my eyes to the right or left. Sure enough, especially with the more mature and well-trained horses on the ranch, just fixing my eyes, with no perceptible head movement, frequently helped to guide the horse. I understand now that animals are constantly reading our brainwaves in addition to our body language. If we recognize this and can fix in our minds the positive, clear mental images associated with the appropriate behavior, we’ll be far ahead of the curve in redirecting to a more positive outcome.
Along with positive commands with clear intention, consider the simplicity of the command. Pretend you are a horse and receive this command along with resulting mental images: “Mr. Ed, I want to go over there to that nice spot by the creek where we might stop for some lunch, but first let’s go over there to check on that fence. But wait a minute – I think I might want to go back to the barn instead.” I don’t know about you, but I’d stop all forward motion immediately and wait for a command that would result in a better chance for success!
Yes, the world and our lives are busy and stressful, and it is easy to feel out of control. Our animals can be a bright spot in our day, and these simple guidelines can help to create an oasis of peacefulness in your home. Certainly our young and challenging animals need consistent, professional training. Positive commands and strong intention do not replace being a responsible guardian. But for the animals who have an occasional rambunctious evening, or need a little course-correction every now and then, take a deep breath and approach the situation by first calming yourself, then working with your animals with positive commands. Envision the successful outcome rather than the current disobedience. It may not seem like much, but one calm, harmonious evening with your animals may change your whole outlook on life!
P.S. Some of our human communications could probably benefit from this same concept!