Why Kind Words Are Eternal to Your Pets
Several years ago, I came across someone whose life wasn’t going too well. She was in a job she hated as an animal control officer.
I can only try to empathize with how a job like this would potentially harm the soul and spirit of someone who doesn’t ever want to kill any living animal. Yet, there are times when animal control officers have to make the decision to take the life of an animal. It could be because of rabies or rabies potential, or a bear that is killing campers or even just getting too close to campers.
The officer had her own border collie and a Labrador Retriever. Both were lovely dogs. The Border Collie was a natural at herding, yet he was confined in his crate during the long hours she worked. Other family members would take him out during the day so it wasn’t a dire type of situation.
Related: 6 Bizarre Ways Our Dogs Talk to Us
Because of the pressures of the job, she took out a lot of her anger and frustration on the Border Collie. Family members reported that she would wield her gun when she came home and say things like, “Rocky, you are one step away from being in the grave!”, “You’re a total loser!”, “You better stay in line or I’m going to take you out!”
Now obviously this was a really bad situation for the dogs but it gives us all something to think about and look at our own behavior. What are our words to our pets? Are we taking out our frustrations on them? What do we think their response to us will be?
In the case mentioned, the dog grew to dislike the owner. He became stubborn, not following her commands and looked at her with disdain instead of with eyes of love. You should also know that he didn’t die a horrible death or anything like that.
Related: Don’t Worry, He’s Friendly! Training for Off-Leash Dog Encounters
Make Your Words Pleasant No Matter What
But really, what are our words to our pets during the day? When we first awaken in the morning, it may be because the pet has a dire need to go outside. Do we say things like “Again? Geez, That’s all you do is pooh and pee!” or “You are nothing but trouble and work!” Or do we say, “Good morning Gigi! Let’s get you outside to see the sunshine bright and early! You might even catch a few squirrels this morning!”
Do we spend valuable time with our pooch with words such as:
- “Wow, you are looking awfully clean today, Kitty! It looks like you’ve been cleaning yourself all day long! Good job!”
- “It’s a great day for a car ride – and you’re invited, Ginger!” (You’ll watch her dance around after this one. Dogs love the word invited.)
- “Looks like you have a snack attack, Fido! You might need a little more protein to stop that…”
- “What’s up with those squirrels that they’re irritating you so much today?” (instead of “Shut up! I’ve heard enough!”) Seeing the situation from the dog’s perspective is amazing for calming down your nervous system after hearing a lot of barking.)
- “What a good appetite! But you ate all our food, Buster! I know I told you I’d share, but you aren’t following the sharing rules.”
- “I’ve got something special for you, today!”
- “Now this mess is not making me happy. Do you remember the rules we have in this house?”
One time a friend of mine was having major problems with her standard poodle making a mess inside the crate when she left for work. I suggested she explain to the dog what the rules were with love and kindness. “The dog just has to be set straight,” I told her.
She followed the recommendations and said there was an amazing transformation in the dog. She never had an issue with messes in the house after that. She also started to explain a lot more things to her pet. This came in handy, as she had only owned the dog for a few months. The dog needed to know the rules.
Words Define Your Relationships
Pets understand a lot more than what most of us believe. They hear your words – and they take them to heart. You are everything to your pet. You are their entire world, and they will do anything and everything for you. This type of love is not something you’ll find in the human world.
Our words make or break every relationship we have, including with our pets. They act as daggers if they are not encouraging, loving or helpful in any way. But once they are switched to loving words 24/7, there’s a transformation that occurs not only in you but also in the pet’s heart.
I once interviewed an elephant trainer that trained elephants in Reno for the big shows on the stage. He told me that the secret was to let the elephants know you were there for them, not they were there for you. You had to reinforce good behavior and never focus on the bad behavior. You had to use kind words to them so they would trust you and not flatten you. “That’s how I could get those elephants to do ANYTHING,” he said. “They wouldn’t do anything for anyone else…”
What are the words you’ll use to your pets today? Remember that your words are eternal.
More by Donna Schwontkowski