Methods matter

Some frustrated pet owners don’t care what methods are used to solve a behavior issue.  They beg “Just make him stop doing that!”  But methods matter.

When I was first learning about animal communication when I was young I had the wrongful impression that it was like mind control, a way to force our will on animals.  My tabby cat had an annoying habit of scratching the front door incessantly to be let out at night, keeping me awake.  I tried yelling, getting out of bed to play with her, feeding her, anything I could think of to change her habit.  None of it worked and I was getting more sleep-deprived by the day.  I finally tried using animal communication to ask her to stop scratching the door and come up on the bed.  It worked!  She immediately stopped scratching, walked to the bedroom and hopped up on the bed.  After a short time she got off the bed but didn’t go back to scratching the door.  Until the next night.  I gave her the same message: ‘Stop that and come up on the bed.’  Same result – she stopped scratching, came up on the bed for a while, then jumped down restlessly.  After a few nights of this little ritual, I gave the command and she stopped scratching and walked partway to the bedroom then froze.  I could feel her anger and resentment.  I heard her shout at me telepathically, “I don’t WANT to go to bed!”  She paced a little, made some angry vocalizations, then went in another room.

I didn’t blame her, cats are nocturnal and I didn’t really expect or want her to sleep all night anyway.  I just wanted to be able to sleep myself.  So the following night when she scratched the door again, instead of trying to force my will on her, I let her know that I understood she was scratching to try to tell me she wanted to go out, but she needed to be in at night to be safe.  I explained that the scratching was keeping me awake and I really needed to sleep all night so I’d be able to function at work in the morning.  I asked her if she’d please stop this habit, and find another way, a quiet way, to entertain herself while I was sleeping.  This worked much better!  She told me she hadn’t understood why I wasn’t getting her message that she wanted out, and she’d been mad about that. She apologized for keeping me awake.  After that talk, she was careful to be quiet all night, and she never scratched the door again!

I learned my lesson: Trying to force animals may lead to temporary compliance but ultimately resentment.   Long lasting positive changes occur when we treat animals with the respect they deserve, try to understand their point of view, explain our own, and ask for cooperation.