We tend to label behaviors as good, bad or neutral depending on the situation. For people as well as our pets, behaviors result from our emotional states, how we are feeling. For people, however, how we feel is based mostly on what we are thinking, i.e. our thoughts. 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.
Remember a time when your pet “misbehaved”. How did you feel? Were you stressed, frustrated, angry or even worried? Did you notice that their behavior didn’t improve much, or maybe even got worse, the harder you tried to make it stop?
Now think about a time when your pet was getting something good from you, like loving attention, joyful play or a yummy treat. How did they behave? How did you feel? Have you noticed how your pets tend to behave beautifully when they are getting something good from you?
As you 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 scary. It is also not attractive or inviting and will repel them, harming our bonds.
When stress kicks in, neither you nor your pet know what you actually want. You become disconnected yet will synchronize with them in a “fight or flight” emotional state. When this happens, your brains are only able to focus on the perceived cause of stress, i.e. what you don’t want. Additionally, by marking a situation with a lot of emotional drama, you “label” that event as BAD. It feels BAD and is highly memorable. The next time that BAD feeling is triggered, the same stressful behavior will happen because of the memory loop that was created.
Now think of a time when your pet behaves 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 this moment. You feel connected, loving, trusting and appreciative of each other and the experience. This feels wonderful and is also highly memorable as it produces “feel good” hormones like oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin. These sensations are naturally 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:
1. 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 that will become automatic for you over time with practice.
2. 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.
3. Confidently redirect and diffuse the behaviors that you don’t want. No drama!
Remember… 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 intention for it TO happen. Confident, clear intention fosters the appropriate emotional state for our pets to understand us. When we are confident and clear about what we intend, we are able to communicate those intentions non-verbally and very precisely by a myriad of subconscious and conscious cues we give off. And when our intentions are good, it feels good and inviting. It feels curiously interesting, safe to explore or to figure out without the 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.