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Nonverbal Communication with Our Dogs and Cats

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It is very important to always communicate in positive terms— “see” what you want your dog or cat to do, rather than focusing on unwanted behaviors. Dogs and cats live fully in the moment, so picture them as you want them to be. For instance, don’t ask them if they want to go to the vet or the groomer or for a ride in the car. Why? Because, they don’t know how they’ll feel until they get there to that exact moment in time. Unlike us, dogs and cats live in the moment. What lessons we can learn about being here—right now! So visualize them peacefully riding in the car, or calmly allowing the vet to examine them.

Practice visualizing positive, loving pictures rather than negative, worrying ones. Have you noticed that the things you worry about often seem to happen? Practice positivity, and positive visualization, and you’ll find it spilling over into every aspect of your life.

This is so crucial when communicating with your animal companions. If you say, for example (either out loud or nonverbally), “Don’t jump on the couch,” your dog or cat sees an image in your mind’s eye of him jumping on the couch. He won’t get the “don’t” part of it. He’ll think oh, she wants me to jump on the couch. Your yelling at him to not jump on the couch is then a mixed signal. Instead, say and visualize what you DO want him to do. In this case, you would say, in an even but stern tone, “Go to your bed!” Then gently carry or lead him to his bed to reinforce the positive behavior.

It’s impossible to hide your feelings from dogs and cats. They always know—and they may “get it” even before we know ourselves. They can even take on your stresses, fears, and frustrations. Over time, these may manifest as illness. So it’s a good idea to even refrain from arguing in front of your animal companions; it’s extremely stressful for them. It’s not fair to treat them as if they’re not in the room when we lose control of our emotions. Their sensibilities should be respected.

To give you an idea how sensitive dogs are, Rupert Sheldrake, a British biologist and the author of Dogs That Know When Their Owners are Coming Home, did an experiment in which he placed video cameras with time codes in the house, aimed to catch the action of the homebound dog. At a random time, unbeknownst to the human or dog, the human would get a phone call on a cell phone many miles away, saying to return home. At that very instant, cameras showed that the homebound dog would become excited and run to the door to wait for their human. This experiment was repeated hundreds of times, and were all confirmed by the videos. The moral of this story: don’t feel silly practicing nonverbal communication, EVER!

You can also practice this pure heart-to-heart communication skill with a new pet, or with animals at dog or cat shows or shelters, or even at your vets office. First, learn the cat or dog’s name, if possible. Try saying the name in a sweet, soft, “feminine” (high-pitched) voice. We pretty much all do that with animals and babies, right? It seems, in the animal world the female voice is the most nonthreatening. If you’re a man, or a woman with a deep voice, raise your pitch and speak softly.

Of course, always ask the guardian if it’s okay to work with and touch the animal; and then ask the animal’s permission.

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Read more: Alternative Therapies, Behavior & Communication, Cats, Dogs, Pet Health, Pets, Self-Help, Spirituality and Technology

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Celeste Yarnall

Celeste Yarnall, PhD shares musings on myriad of topics at her Celestial Musings Blog. She is the author of The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care with Jean Hofve, DVM and Paleo Dog. Celeste is an actress/producer/activist/writer and keynote speaker. She and her husband Nazim Artist created the Art of Wellness Collection and are the producers of Femme: Women Healing the World. They live in Los Angeles, California with their beloved Tonkinese cats. Join Celeste at her website or on Facebook.

117 comments

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11:07PM PST on Jan 21, 2014

I knew this blog post was existed someplace. Thanks to post such articles. Will unquestionably be using it very soon.
Addison

9:58AM PDT on Jun 1, 2013

THANK YOU FOR SHARING

12:25AM PDT on May 21, 2013

If somebody wants expert take on the main topic of blogging next I advise him/her to go to this site, continue the fussy job.
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8:03AM PDT on Aug 24, 2012

nice article i really enjoyed it! thank you muchly

8:21AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Interesting but please don't use an article to post an advert for Moxxor-this is supposed to be about communicating with pets not stuff we should be purchasing. Reading about things we should purchase in the comment section drives me up the wall.

My cat is 16 and blind and she rules with an iron paw. She certainly lets me know when she wants attention and will stand by my chair on the left hand side first and insist of back rubbing and talk and then she moves to the right hand side and insists on a much longer session purring loudly, meowing and pure enjoyment.
I am now allergic to her but will never give up the cat with Tortitude!

2:39PM PDT on Apr 3, 2012

One of my very good friends and fellow Moxxor distributors, which is a product she and I both take ourselves and share with our dogs and cats, is a top animal communicator and I wanted to share a session she did with me when I was naturally rearing kittens on the holistic principles outlined in my book Holistic Cat Care which you can learn about at http://www.CelestialPets.com. This video clip is from a YouTube clip from That’s My Baby ~ Mimosa Tonkinese Cat! I retired from breeding and showing when we reached the 11th generation which proved without a shadow of a doubt how much each generation of cats improved on the raw meat diet and holistic principles. It was like a quantum leap each generation! Our energies at CelestialPets.com are directed to rescue efforts and sharing the wealth of knowledge acquired during these 20 years! Here is Joan Ranquet and I with the babies and the film crew from Animal Planet and Joan is seen here doing a beautiful job of interviewing them! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeN8zZA5nIQ

8:51AM PST on Nov 20, 2011

Great post, Celeste, I loved it!!! Thanks a lot for your contribution; it's really useful!! I'll sure share it with all my pet-loving friends.

8:15PM PST on Nov 14, 2011

nice info

12:51AM PDT on Oct 26, 2011

thanks.

8:55PM PDT on Sep 11, 2011

This is actually so interesting, I feel like my dog actually understands what we say sometimes!!!

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