WORKING THROUGH CHANGES IN THE HOME: THE ANIMAL PERSPECTIVE

 

 

 

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ADVOCATING FOR TRUST

Whether you have just adopted a new animal, are moving into a new home or adding a new family member into your home, your animals may not react well. Companion animals build trust with people and other animals in a very specific way. If your goal is a happy home, there are a few steps to follow that will ensure a harmonious transition into the new environment.

When bringing a new animal into the home or going to visit another person’s home and encountering their animal friend, there is one main commonality that will help you win the animal over. You must LET THE ANIMAL COME TO YOU.  You will want to avoid approaching the new animal on your terms. Animals are considerably sensitive and reluctant to trust new people and circumstances. When working through any issues with companion animals, we always want to go at the animal’s pace. By allowing the animal an opportunity to approach you when she is ready, we are respecting her boundaries thereby allowing for her to feel safe.

Companion animals, especially dogs, thrive on routine. They become easily accustomed to the household happenings and relax once the routine is set. When the routine is changed in a major way such as bringing a new animal into the home or moving, it can be very upsetting to the animal. Though eventually they will adapt, it’s important to consider these events from the animal’s perspective.

The animal builds trust and comfort easily in a home where there is a daily routine. If this routine is broken, the animal can easily lapse into anxiety- especially if the animal has already been predisposed to such behaviour. Of course, it would be nearly impossible to expect every household to stay in precisely the same routine for the duration of the time your animal is with you! However based on this concept of the animal’s comfort zone, we can proceed in accordance.

Similar to routine maintenance, another way to help you to gain an animal’s trust is to use very easy commands with her in a consistent way. Animals who are new to your home will be adjusting to a whole host of new circumstances. Having as many constants as possible will make this easier on them. How you can become a constant is to use a few of the same words consistently. Whether you are obedience training them or helping to familiarize them with you and their new home, using the same four or five words as commands will go a long way. We want to use commands that a short, sweet and to the point. For example, when we are training a dog to stay off of the furniture, using a one-word command such as “off” is a good idea. When we begin to vary this command to “not on the couch” or “stay away”, this can be confusing to the dog and he may feel like he is failing in his new home by not understanding what is the desirable behaviour. By using exactly the same command in exactly the same tone, the dog will grasp the concept easily. Furthermore, this command can be cross-implemented in other situations where the dog may be on a bed, counter or any other surface. When the animal understands the command, the animal feels successful and will be much happier and more comfortable, allowing a bridge of trust to form.

When you are bringing a new animal into your home, or having a visitor, it is a good idea to remember that companion animals are incredibly noise-sensitive. This means that they will respond best to soothing tones of voice and music. Keep in mind that if your intention is to play loud music or have many people over, it is best to consider your options from your animal’s perspective. Loud parties can be damaging to sensitive animals. This does not mean that you have to avoid throwing a party (like I do!), it may simply mean that your animal friends may be more comfortable in a room alone, or staying elsewhere for the night.

Further to the noise issue, when speaking with your animals or any animals for that matter, remember that they will resonate more easily with soothing tones of voice. In fact, if you are attempting to communicate with your animal that she has engaged in unacceptable behaviour, speaking in loud and heavy tones may do the opposite of getting the point across. It may make the animal shut down completely and fear you. When seeking to gain an animal’s trust, instead of yelling the work “NO!!”, it may be worthwhile to use gentler, softer tones and use a word such as “uh-uh”, or  even saying “no” in a softer tone will help.

By implementing some of these suggestions, you will surely create an environment in which animals feel safe and secure. Following these steps with new animals to your home, animals whom you encounter regularly and bringing new people around your animals allows for a healthy and positive life experience

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