This year has gone off with very little bang. There is no need to be reminded of the struggles we have endured over the past two years, so today, I want to focus on the good. What do we have in our control right now? Well, surprisingly there is a lot that is within the realms of our control in life, and one of those is the relationship we have with our pets.
How would you rate your relationship with your pet? Do they listen to you? More importantly, do you listen to them? Do they come when they are called? Do they respect you? Trust you? We’d like to think that our pets come already trusting and respecting us, but in reality, both virtues need to be earned. Puppies and kittens are inherently more trusting because they have not been exposed to the world much. Where as adult pets, or recently adopted pets can take time to learn that you are trust worthy and deserve their respect.
One of the most common reasons our dogs do not listen to us, do as we say, and are difficult to work with, is because of the relationship we have together. Before a dog will listen to us, we must learn the art of listening to them. Here are some tips that will help you learn to provide the best relationship possible with your pet, and with yourself:
Observe your pet more. Instead of only watching them when they are doing the behaviour you don’t like, look out for what leads to it. When you can see what the cause is, you’ll have a better understanding of how to prevent the problem in the first place.
Look out for the C- Words. If you’re not familiar with these, they are three words that we should always reward our dogs for when they are Calm, Cooperating, Controlling themselves, dogs will do these things every day, and several times a day. When we start to focus on these instead of waiting for something to go wrong, we soon find that they start offering the right behaviours far more often, and the bad behaviours far less often.
Take the pressure off. Often, we expect our dogs to comply with us at all times. But dogs and cats (in fact most pets in our lives) are sentient, meaning they have thoughts and feelings like us. If they don’t do as we ask, don’t get upset with them. Ask yourself why they did it. How to solve a behaviour problem requires a lot more internal dialogue than getting frustrated by our pets.
Resist the urge to disengage with your pet, by using social media. On average, we spend 145 minutes scrolling social media per day. That’s almost 2.5 hours aimlessly looking at content that makes us anxious and unhappy. Imagine what you could achieve with your pet over 2.5 hours each day! Plus, I guarantee you’d both be much happier and healthier.
Just be. I know that this is a little cliché these days. Being mindful and being in the present is a practice that we are all aware of. But how many of us actually do it properly? I know that our pets are great at it. There are ample studies showing that people who live in the present are happier. Want to be happier? Well, this may be a great start! When we are happier, our pets are too. They need us to be calm, confident and stable. When we are not, they are not either.
Well, I think that’s a good start on our pursuit to a better year and a more positive relationship with our pets. I think that this year is the year to finally put a lot of this into practice. If there’s one thing I have learnt over the past two years, it is that life is short and it is precious. And, if we are lucky enough to have animals in our lives, now is the time to make the most of life with them.