This is really a common question that I get asked. You would think it's a simple answer right? More dog treats, longer walks, more squirrels and birds to chase. A pasture buddy. Yes, sometimes that is the 'right now' answer. Most times however, it is something more elusive. Many times they are asking for you to be (or become) present and to be their leader. So what does that mean for you? Well, it means a lot. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
Do you treat your horse, dog, cat, bird, ferret, etc like a baby? (Baby talk, high pitched voice, raising the energy and seeing the animal begin to dance or spin? Jig or race?)
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 angry or upset if they act in a way you don't want them to? (Beyond puppy/kitten/colt/filly aged animals who are still learning?)
Are you high energy? Have a high stress job/life? A worrier? Nervous? Fretful? Fearful? (Don't close the blog, I'm not judging... and this is just starting to get good!)
Are you on a time schedule with your pet? (Taking Fido for walks. Blackie for a ride in the arena. Fluffy for play time.)
Finally...(now be honest), are you afraid of your pet? A little? A lot?
OK, so if you answered yes to any of those questions above, CONGRATULATIONS! You are aware! That is excellent. Next question, are you willing to change YOU to change them? HUH? (If you just said 'I don't have time.' or 'The (insert furry troublemaker) is the problem, not me.' Read no further. This is not for you.) Unless you have an animal that is truly unsafe for you to be around (PM me now if that is you) we are going to go through ways you can make changes to make everyone's life happier. They aren't epic changes either...go figure.OK, today we'll chat about #1 - High-pitched voices, baby talk and excited energy with cats, dogs and horses.
Cats: A high pitched squeaky voice. Did you realize that your vocalization to Fluffy is similar to that of a chirping bird? A squeaky mouse? Listen to the birds outside for a minute or two. Do you hear it? That is a cat's prey. Uhuh.
Dogs: You raise your voice and raise your energy. The energy of excitement is not where dogs listen or think from. When you tell your dog it's time to go for a walk and they spin and dance with this kind of energy, keeping them next to you, listening to you and behaving for you goes out the door (right along with Fido). Instead of going for a walk, you go for a drag. Yeah, you laughed because you know. I know too... (What? You think I'm going to tell you I never had an issue - phhhfff - whatever! Imagine this issue with a horse...same issue, same fix, but how much more weight and power behind it? Yes, I learned the lesson REALLY quickly.
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 best with. Just like with dogs, they are not focused on you when they are in this higher energy. They are distracted. Or worse, annoyed...and Blackie squished you into the wall again.
Today's team exercise is:
Become aware of how you are speaking to and acting with your pet. Now, if you think you need to change your voice to be all 'gruff and ruff'. Nope. We're not changing anything yet. Just be aware of what you are doing. Start a journal to help you see that there may be environmental triggers. "When I have little Jimmy's soccer practice and Suzie's gymnastics on Tuesdays, Fido drags me everywhere. He gets in the garbage and pulls it through the house." AND you may see "On Saturdays, when I garden outside, then take Fido for a walk, he is so wonderful! We meet neighbors and he sits quietly by my side and is an angel!" Sometimes having a journal will make you aware of when your pet is being GREAT and you are not acknowledging it. Don't you hate it when family, co-workers and bosses don't acknowledge you when you are being a ROCK STAR?! So practice being aware of how you and your family act with your pet. Watch how your pet responds and if there is anyone that gets the response you are looking for, watch them. Their voice, manner, actions, etc. Try changing it up. Take a couple deep breaths before you enter the house after work. Be aware of the energy you are ‘in’. They can feel it before you ever walk through the door. Check in tomorrow for more helpful tips on giving your pets what they are asking for (which is what you may also be asking for as well).
Would you like more? Would you like to schedule a free 20 minute discovery session with Deb? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org and put 'YES to my Discovery Session!' in the subject line.