Bonding With Our Pets: How to Develop the Relationships That You Want

March 13, 2016  

Consider what happens if you are fearful, frustrated, or irritated when you engage with your pets. How do they respond? Are these the results you want and if so, how sustainable do you think these results will be?

Now, reconsider. How different do you believe the outcome of that interaction will be if you were engaging them with forgiveness, compassion and acceptance? How would that feel? How differently would they feel about wanting to engage with you, to be with you, to please you?

The way in which people emotionally and behaviorally engage in their interactions with their pets determines the quality of those relationships and as well as the sustainability of the “desired” results they are getting with them.

To quote American poet Maya Angelou- “… people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

This is especially true for our animal companions, especially dogs. These highly emotional and sensitive creatures are acutely aware of how we show up both behaviorally and emotionally, as they can sense our intensions through the subtlest of cues we give off. How we make them feel in that moment determines the outcome of our interactions with them, the sustainability of that outcome and the quality of the bond that develops.

Our pets and most domesticated animals are dependent on people for their very survival. Because of this, they have developed a keen awareness of human nature. Dogs especially can sense and respond to our emotions even when we are unconscious of them ourselves. Their sense of smell in particular is estimated to be over 100,000 X stronger than humans. It allows them to smell our physiological state (cancer detection, changes in blood sugar, seizure detection and our emotions, to name a few that we can document). Their hearing is also very acute as they have the ability to accurately interpret inflections and tonal quality changes in our voices (as opposed to an analytical understanding of the language we use). Although their visual acuity is estimated to be 4 X weaker than ours, they are more perceptive of movement and are able to interpret even subtle changes in our facial expressions… although Botox is proving to confuse;o)

What can you do? You can learn about our different levels of engagement and how they normally show up in people and in our pets, especially when under stress. You can learn to recognize how these different ways of engaging will either harm or nurture the bond that you have with them. You can develop the skills to effectively manage how you engage, even when under stress, so you can connect and synchronize with your pets (and people) at a higher level of engagement, resulting in a closer bond, with more desirable and sustainable results.