A few days ago I gave out a challenge. Have you taken it? If you’d like to improve your relationship with the animals around you, all you need do is expand your belief systems a little. Even if it feels weird at first…I want you to talk to the animals as if they understand every word, choosing your words carefully.
If you have taken the challenge, by now you might be seeing signs from the animal such as these:
- Mostly ignoring your chatter (for a few days.)
- Doing a classic double-take (when they realize you are looking at them and actually addressing them seriously.)
- Staring in your eyes…and eventually woofing in exasperation or doing a cat or doggy shoulder shrug when they realize you can’t hear them back.
- Paying closer attention to you and often anticipating with actions on what you’re about to say. (They don’t hold a grudge that you can’t hear them and are happy to know you’re trying. I expect they feel sorry for us!)
Animals and Vocabulary
Although an animal’s actual language vocabulary might be limited based on your own, they always pick up the intent of your message. And that’s something you should have no trouble recognizing.
How often have you seen a dog or cat react to a person that goes directly against what the person is saying. “Oh, I simply love dogs, and they always take to me,” a woman gushed when I walked our Golden Retriever through the park some years ago. It was one of the only times I saw Griffin growl and stand in front of me on guard. Guess who I believed more.
Teaching your dog new words is great…but you can talk in clear sentences and they usually get the message through their other senses. (Whether they act on it is another thing :))
Choose Your Words Carefully
When speaking with the animals you care for, choose your words to match your intention. Animals are visual creatures…learn how to help them succeed.We’re taught to use positive words when speaking to each other because the brain doesn’t recognize negatives in its visual way of seeing the world. In other words…it’s better to say, “Remember to leave your keys on the counter,” rather than, “Don’t leave your keys on the car seat.” If someone said the latter to you, what does your mind mentally show you? The keys sitting on the car seat, of course. Because it can’t show you a “don’t.” Pictures are often how we as humans remember things, also, and how animals interpret what we’re saying.
Animals are highly visual and communicate with each other with mental pictures, thoughts, and feelings. When you tell your cat to, “Please don’t scratch the new sofa!” she will do her absolute best to tear the living daylights out of the sofa because you so clearly and emotionally showed her that picture in your mind. And you did, didn’t you? You had to see her do it to tell her not to! The poor cat is as proud as can be for doing something you asked…and gets swatted out the door for it! No wonder animals begin to ignore us.
The Better Word Choice
Going forward, take an extra moment to rephrase your sentences and commands both to humans and other animals. “Don’t scratch the sofa,” becomes, “Use your scratching post to scratch,” or “You may sleep on the blanket on the sofa.” Both show the cat a positive acceptable action and everyone is happy.
Keep practicing and keep a notebook with your successes in there. You’ll be astounded at how your relationships with the animals change.
Until next time, have fun out there!