I tell every animal I have a consultation with two different statements. The first is: “The smartest animals (including humans) are conscious of their behavior. They know what they are doing at every moment and why.”
The second bit of information I also tell every animal is: “Animals have body language behaviors that they use to communicate with other animals and to calm themselves. Some of these behaviors are licking the mouth, yawning, blinking the eyes, looking and looking away, turning away, sitting down, lying down, and shaking the whole body to release a lot of stress or excitement.” It is extremely important for animals to be conscious of when they use these “calming signals”. If animals are conscious of their behaviors in everyday life when they become fearful or aggressive it is easier for them to remember to use these signals in order to feel more safe and stable.
The holidays can be stressful times for a number of animals. Some animals are left home alone longer than usual and others are forced to be in chaotic situations that they would not normally be in such as family gatherings and parties. I urge people to tell your animals what to expect. Do this at a quiet moment. When you talk to them remember to put an image to everything you are saying and to stay positive. For instance you could explain, “This afternoon I will take you for a nice walk and then I am going to leave the house to see some people for the holiday. It will be dark for a long time when I come home. I’ll bring you a special treat (turkey). I’ll leave some soft classical music on for you to listen to and the light in the hallway. You can look out the front window. Talk to the animals outside or the other animals in the house if you get bored. Be confident. You are safe.”
Or you could describe, “I want you to know that when the sun is the highest a group of people are going to come to the house. There will be a lot of noise and movement. They will leave after it gets dark. I want you to keep all four of you paws on the ground. When you get excited or scared remember to lick, yawn, and look away to calm yourself. You can always go in the bedroom if you have too much stimulation. Uncle Tony is coming. Remember him? He is really big, has dark hair and makes a lot of noise. He will probably start shouting when he watches the TV in the den. He is a good man. You can feel safe and quiet around him. Also the three little girls are coming as well. You need to be gentle with them. If you bump into them they fall and cry. You must try extra hard to watch where your body is when you are around them. If you get nervous come to me or go into the bedroom. I will save you a special treat for when the night is over or maybe the kids will give you something special.”
Lala the German Shepherd says, “You should tell some dogs that they should watch the children extra close to make sure they are safe. Sometimes parents forget at these events. You should tell cats and small dogs that some people drink alcohol and don’t watch where they are stepping so not to sleep on the floor next to people feet. You can tell these animals that they should keep the old people company because these people hear only a little bit of what everyone is saying and animals make old people feel better. Tell everyone to say ‘I love you’ to everyone else because you don’t know if it will be the last time you see some people. Tell everyone to be peaceful. Some people try to be confusing on purpose. Don’t take it personally. Remember your pet and smile when you get anxious. People can even lick, yawn and walk away.”