How awesome it is that we live in a time when we can celebrate the human/animal bond; a time when science recognizes what pet parents have intuitively known for years – animals have feelings and emotions similar to ours. This knowledge of shared emotions and feelings of joy, pain and grief creates the foundation for a relationship with our pets. Our connection with our pets is more than a care giving experience. We’re more than roommates; we’re best friends and family. Creating strong solid relationships with our pets is important.
Following are a few tips for building a stronger and deeper relationship with your pet:
GET ACQUAINTED WITH YOUR PET
Every pet has a unique distinctive personality and getting to know them personally is crucial. For example, knowledge of general canine behavior and specific breed characteristics is important. Yet paying attention to what our pet likes or dislikes, their favorite games and food, and touch preferences will help us relate better to our pet. We can use their likes to soften the experiences they don’t like such as going to the vet, or taking a pill. You can “reward” them with a treat or something they really like and possibly create a tolerable activity. Observing your pet at play or in social situations can give you a deeper appreciation of your pet’s personality. You can design social activities, games and playtimes suited to their preferences.
SPEND TIME TOGETHER
The foundation for any relationship is being together and sharing experiences. Most pets like routine and setting aside time each day to spend with your pet helps create a solid bond. Also, add extra times for special outings and extended playtime opportunities. Focus on fun and quality. The adage that “families that play together, stay together” is especially important in a family that includes people and pets. Quality time is important; spending less time in a relaxed attentive way can be as beneficial to your pet as spending more time in a stressed, rushed and hurried way.
BRUSH UP ON YOUR COMMUNICATION SKILLS
Good relationships require good communication skills. Consistency with our words, tone of voice, and signals is essential in communicating clearly our expectations for our pet. Lack of consistency causes confusion and our pets are unclear about what we want from them. Communication, however, is a two-way street; we need to understand the way our pet communicates. Though especially true of dogs and cats, all pets have a system of communication. It is our responsibility to learn about the cues our pets give us into their needs, thoughts and feelings. This is one of the most amazing gifts we can give them.
STAY CALM AND KEEP YOUR COOL!
Our pets pick up on our stress, feelings of anger and frustration. Recent studies have shown that dogs whose owners had high levels of the stress hormone cortisol also had high levels of cortisol which suggests that dogs can become stressed in response to their owners’ stress and anxiety. Create a home environment that is a calm and stress free as possible They need to trust that we will take care of them emotionally as well physically.
Building a strong bond and connection based on trust, respect and positive interaction will develop into a loving relationship between you and your pet. Most importantly, touch and cuddle them, talk, sing or read to them, love AND enjoy them!