As leaders of the pack, it falls on us to guide the animals that live with us. Now, if you’ve tried many techniques to correct an animal’s behavior (and already know that scolding doesn’t work), how else can you empower them?
What works, especially with dogs, is using your body to herd them or change the trajectory of their path. In the animal world, a leader is someone who gets the other animals to move their feet.
For example, let’s say there are two dogs in your household and one of them pushes the other away and eats their food. In that situation, the first dog is in charge because it got the other one to move. How are you going to handle it? What rules must you lay down, so your household is peaceful?
Since I don’t tolerate fighting, my main rule is that everyone gets along. Sometimes my dog Charlie gets a little feisty with Diego, the other male dog. Instantly I remind him to be friendly ― Charlie gets it. All my animals know the rules and they follow my lead.
Keep things simple and be clear with your animal by saying, for example: I want you to only bark at nighttime. Most people reinforce the behavior they don’t desire ― stop barking ― which rarely works.
Thereafter, a couple of other steps are required.
Consistency rules the day
Not every animal is going to be docile and accept your rules; some will try to stretch the boundaries or see what else they can get away with.
That’s why you have to be consistent, especially in the beginning. If the bossy dog gets up and starts to push the other one away, use your body to make them move. Get in their face, not from anger but firmly enough so they realize YOU are in charge. Show them you’re committed to the new rules. Now, there will be times when you’re tempted to let things go, such as in the middle of watching a good movie. If you’re willing to follow through, your animals will get the message quicker.
One of my clients had a reactive dog who was really scared of people. That dog barked at every sound so I suggested putting it on a leash even while indoors. Then, I asked the lady to calmly reassure her animal by saying, ‘I’ve got this,’ every time it reacted. She did this for a week and yes, it was a lot of work. Afterward, her dog became confident, relaxed, and a joy to have around.
While it pays to be persistent, avoid being overly zealous. The moment your animal lets go of their behavior, you let it go. This is very important because animals learn from us stopping the pressure on them. Often, we drive the point home too hard. Even if your animal takes one step backward, acknowledge them because nagging, rather like scolding, isn’t effective either.
Over many years of working with animals, I’ve encountered unusual behavior which had no obvious explanation. Animals make their own choices, and some are carried over from previous lifetimes. Consequently, I have created some tools based on the techniques of Access Consciousness, which can be incredibly helpful. For instance, the audio for noise-sensitive animals, which can be downloaded free from my website, has assisted many. While it may seem strange to play an audio for animals, does that matter if it works?
On social media, I once saw a picture of a dog that had eaten a big chunk out of a sofa. It was looking extremely happy and pleased, as dogs often do. Animals don’t judge themselves for any behavior, good or bad. When we scold them, they can perceive the intensity of our frustration or anger but don’t know what they should do differently.
For me, empowering an animal begins with giving them some simple rules, communicating clearly and then following through. It might take time and patience, and if you don’t give up or give in, eventually you will succeed.