When I meet a dog or a cat, I focus on their personality and their non-verbal communication. In this way I am able to satisfy their needs. I focus on their body language, and observe them in their environment to achieve my aim.
When I was studying to be a psychotherapist I had to do homework. I remember in particular one homework task on training one’s ability to read non-verbal language. I had to go into a department store, sit down on a bench and observe the people in the store, i.e. to observe them without making any judgments. I think it was one of the most difficult exercises which I’ve ever done. But it really helped me build my professionalism.
And I use this ability with animals now. I just observe them without projecting on to them my thoughts and my judgments. When I observe them, I read their non-verbal language, and ask myself: “How can I be interesting in their eyes?” And when I think of an answer, I commit myself to developing the right way to catch their interest.
This concept is clearly explained in the video that you will see. I was house sitting, and looking after Jingo (a cat) and Millie (a dog). They live together. Jingo is an independent cat, who goes in and out as he wants. But he likes to stay at home, to receive cuddles and to play. I usually went out with Millie. When I said “Andiamo” (“Let’s go”), Millie would go out the cat-flap in the front door, and then wait for me to go out. One day I called Millie to go out, but found both Jingo and Millie outside the front door! My first thought was to tell Jingo to get away from the door, but then I realised that he too wanted to go for a walk with me and Millie. He knows the area, because he goes out every day. Anyway, we went out together.
The house is situated in a quiet area. Jingo walked with me and Millie on the pavement, and he did it spontaneously. We walked together for 30 minutes, and then we all went back together. I repeated this practice over the next few days, and I discovered that Jingo behaved like Millie – he stopped to smell, and every time I called him, he ran to me. Also, at the end of her walk, Millie used to sit on the steps at the front door, and we would just sit there for 30/45 minutes before going back into the house. When Jingo went out with us, he sat with us on the stairs as well!
I enjoyed some very meaningful moments with them. And I continue to do so every time I look after these wonderful creatures.
All the Best,
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