We tend to label behavior as either good, bad or neutral depending on the context of the situation it is displayed.
For people as well as our pets, behaviors are the result of our emotional state, how we are feeling. For people, however, how we feel is based mostly on what we are thinking. So think about this, think about the behaviors that you want and consider which emotions will help in producing them for both you and your pet.
Have you ever noticed how when your pet dog or cat misbehaves, how stressed you can get and how frustrated, angry or even worried you can feel? Have you ever wondered why their behaviors don’t seem to improve, or even get worse, the harder you try to stop them?
On the other hand, have you ever noticed how your pets behave beautifully when they know they are getting something good from you, like loving attention, joyful play or yummy treats?
Now consider these 2 different scenes. What is the common thread?
The common thread is our emotional state and the natural emotional synchronization that occurs when we engage with others. This emotional synching is called Limbic Resonance and our pets are excellent at this. They are our emotional mirrors and are immediate and accurate in that refection.
When we are stressing with anxious or angry thoughts, we are focusing on what “we don’t want”, “don’t like” or “want to change”. So are our pets. They can sense our emotional state loud and clear. Stress feels bad. It feels unsafe, unpredictable and out of control. It is also not attractive or inviting and will repel them, harming your bonds.
In stressful moments, neither you nor your pet know what you actually want because you are both stressed, disconnected and synchronized in a “fight or flight” survival physiologic state. Your brains are literally stuck and only able to focus on the perceived cause of stress. Additionally by emotionally marking a situation with a lot of drama, we label that event as BAD! It feels BAD and is highly memorable. The next time that BAD feeling is triggered, the same “protective/survival” behavior will happen because of the memory loop that was created.
Now consider when your pets behave beautifully, like joyfully coming to you in anticipation of love, play or a treat.
You both feel wonderful and are focusing on what is happening in that moment that feels so great. You feel connected, unconditionally loving, completely trusting and appreciative of each other and the experience. THIS feels great and you both know what THIS is.
This emotional experience is also highly memorable as it produces “feel good” hormones like oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin. These sensations are physiologically addictive, creating a healthy desire to recur, as well as strengthening to the bonds you have with each other.
Sounds simple, right? Just don’t stress over stuff. Well, wouldn’t it be wonderful if it could be so simple… but it can be!
Here are 3 key points to remember:
- Identify and envision the behaviors that you want/like. Then notice when they show up by marking them with your genuine display of pleasure. Practice every chance you get as this will create repeatable memory loops and will become automatic for you over time with practice.
- Identify the “feel good” emotions that support those behaviors. Remember it is the emotions that determine behaviors. Enjoy and practice feeling those emotions every chance you get because when you do, your pets will synchronize with those emotions and give you more of the behaviors that you want.
- Ignore, redirect and diffuse the behaviors that you don’t want. No drama!
Keep in mind that behavior is simply that… behavior. We only label behavior as bad when we don’t want it or it seems inappropriate for the situation. For people as well as our pets, our behaviors are the result of what we are feeling. And for people how we are feeling is based mostly on what we are thinking. So think about this… think about what you do want and focus less on what you don’t want.
By clearly envisioning what you would like to have happen you create the intension for it to happen. Confident clear intention fosters the appropriate emotional state for your pet to understand you. When you are confident and clear about what you intend, you are able to communicate those intentions non-verbally and very precisely by a myriad of subconscious and conscious cues you give off. And when your intentions are good, it feels good and inviting. It feels curiously interesting, safe to explore and to figure it out without fear of making mistakes. You feel safe, loving, inviting and accepting… the perfect foundation for creative learning, bonding, nonverbal communication and getting the behaviors that you want.