Are You Driving Your Pet Crazy?
A Report by Raisa Stone
animal knows more than you do." Nez Perce Native proverb
As a professional Animal Communicator, I hear unique and amazing reasons as to why companion animals exhibit certain behaviors. There are, however, common themes. Even if your pet is not exhibiting overt signs of unhappiness, once you expand their horizons, you'll be amazed at how their personalities bloom!
Society conditions us to tell animals what to do, instead of carefully listening and observing. It can be difficult to sort out facts about pet care and training. Accessible information isn't necessarily in your best interest. Some segments of the pet industry make millions by assuring you certain pets are "low maintenance," then selling you substandard supplies and foods.
Animals are sentient beings with strong physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs. Just like us. That you've requested this report means you're in tune with this fact, and want to grow in honouring your companion's holistic nature. I've made this report available only to my special Subscribers.
In this report, I'll ask you to stretch a bit. To attempt to see and feel the world from your pet's point of view.
If you engage me to ask your pet why they're destructive, depressed, disobedient, aggressive, shy or anxious, they might mention in their response, one or more of the following seven things:
#1. I have cabin fever.
Just as when we spend hours sitting instead of moving our bodies, animals manifest a variety of distressing symptoms when they don't get appropriate exercise. Imagine how you'd feel if you didn't even have a TV, computer or book to distract you!
Dogs have been with humans for thousands of years as walking companions. Playing ball in the backyard is pleasant, but our bond deepens when the ancient ritual of moving forward together is fulfilled. This needs to be a daily routine. Turning a dog out in a fenced yard is fine for a few minutes. Then most dogs will sit and watch the door, hoping you'll come to be with them.
Cats love to play and climb. Elaborate climbing apparatuses and perches are much appreciated, especially if they allow your cat to look out the window. Try various toys. I know a cat who'll chase a laser pointer beam for half an hour! I've always harness trained cats, and enjoy exploring the world with them. It is, of course, not safe to allow cats to roam outside. There are so many ways they can be hurt---cars, psychos, poison, dogs, coyotes, ticks, traps, being shut in sheds---and even well fed cats will kill up to 12 songbirds or other small creatures daily. It's easy to build a chicken wire outdoor enclosure. Lovely pre fab ones are available, as well.
your horse unhappy in the ring? Listless? Fighting the bit? Anxious? Take him for several straight
line gallops every week. Horses are built to run in a straight line,
not trot in circles. Ring work is almost 100% about them pleasing us;
it's amazing they cooperate at all. Even bending in circles is
unnatural, and can cause soreness. I'm not saying to give up your discipline, but to also honour your equine's nature and needs. Bending and flexing also need to be approached slowly, with great care.
Horses need to be turned out at
least 12 hours a day, in an area large enough to run and roll.
Cribbing, weaving, biting and bolting and even some lamenesses can often be traced back to
lack of outside space, as well as lack of equine company. I used to retrain Thoroughbred race horses for new careers. It didn't matter how talented they were as jumpers, dressage mounts, etc., they still longed to run. As do Arabs, Quarter Horses, any breed. It makes an amazing difference in their behavior. I've repeatedly experienced the joy of a horse waiting for me, head over the fence and even nickering, "Are we galloping today?" It beats the heck out of, "Gotta treat, stall cleaning slave?"
Fish and turtles deserve the largest tank you can give them, with adequate filtration and live plants. Misleadingly marketed as no care pets (because you can make a lot of money selling millions of low priced "items"), it's untrue that you can keep these creatures happy in a bowl. They'll grow to fit the space you provide. Goldfish and those lovely Siamese Fighting Fish, or Bettas, need a proper tank as much as any other tropical fish. It's painful to live your life gasping for oxygen.
pets such as bunnies, rats, guinea pigs, ferrets, birds, reptiles, etc., need
four hours out of cage time daily. Imagine living in your bathroom
24/7! These traditionally indoor pets also need sunshine, fresh air
and pesticide-free grass. You can build a cage with a removable
bottom to place on the lawn (supervise them), or even harness train them.
#2. I have no friends.
animals crave social time with their own species. Sometimes unique
bonds form between different species, and that's pretty special.
Nonetheless, kitties and bunnies love to curl up together, birds of a
feather flock together, dogs are much happier if they have a friend,
and horses will literally go mad from lack of at least one herd mate.
Most animals have lived in packs, herds or flocks for millennia. To be truly happy and healthy, they need the company of their own kind. If your tenancy rules don't allow for more than one, try to arrange visits with others' pets. If you've sold or adopted out litter mates, arrange for visits with your pet's family. The groups in which they live in their natural state, are intergenerational families. This will create a cool network of like minded friends for you, too! I can help your pet connect spiritually with long lost family members. Staying in touch with their foals, kittens, puppies, parents and extended family can be of great comfort to them.
#3. You want me to use the bathroom where?
Inappropriate soiling is
the, pardon me, Number One problem clients tell me about. They're
always ashamed. I'd like you to know it happens to everyone
sometimes. I discarded a new living room rug due to a rescue
puppy's accidents. A foster bunny ruined $500 worth of bedding while
looking me straight in the eye. Pillows, comforter, mattress; his aim was true and bold.
If your puppy used newspapers or pee pads after leaving her litter, and now you want her to go strictly outdoors, you have a long haul. A canine's instinct is to bathroom as far from the den as possible. Letting them go indoors violated this instinct. If you adopted from a shelter (thank you!), even a formerly house trained dog may have reverted to soiling indoors.
You likely have no idea how your
rescued pet was bathroomed. They may have been left in the backyard
to go at their leisure, thus never developing discipline or true bladder
control. They may have been sporadically allowed in the house, only
to have an "accident," then be struck or yelled at, and
thrown back outside. Or locked in the house/crate for periods beyond endurance, and forced to live in their mess.
They were clueless, confused and angered. If you're
not used to living inside or not taken outside on a regular schedule, how can you differentiate between outdoors
and indoors? Other animals are allowed to use pee pads indefinitely.
I've seen this unhygienic practice treated as normal in some homes
with small dogs. They wonder why dinner guests don't return. Even worse, this affects the dog's self esteem and dignity, which leads to other unhealthy behaviors. Dogs that have soiled in the house will need to be re-educated outdoors as if they were puppies. I have an effective routine for this I can share with you.
Cats can be very fastidious. If the litter box is not immaculate, that planter looks awfully appealing. Some cats hate sharing their box with another, some don't like certain brands of litter, others object to a change of location. It could be too dusty, or hurt their feet. Scented brands multiply umpteen times inside the cat's nose. Cats don't mind their own smell, thank you very much, but they do mind chemical "masking" scents. Imagine if you had to bathroom daily in a facility like that of the local pub after a sports team had been partying!
Bunnies are usually easier to litter train than cats, but have similar concerns. By the way, some bunnies nap in their litter box. They find it comforting. They also eat some of their poop, a normal part of their digestive process. You could say bunnies are very comfortable with themselves. You either love this trait, or you don't. Luckily, healthy bunny turds are odorless (I think so, anyway :-D). Keep the litter box very clean, and they won't have those yellow stained feet.
I'd be interested to hear if you've had success with house training birds or other caged animals. I've heard it's possible. There are now diapers for birds! They make all sizes except budgie. You can let your bird stay out of the cage longer, without the mess. The diaper is inserted in a full body Flight Suit, which also comes with a leash. How cool is that? Just be careful about taking smallish birds outside on a leash; predator birds may swoop down.
If you're frustrated with how long it's taking to house train any pet, consider this: you're their leader. The Big Kahuna. And you toilet indoors! Appreciate your pet for even trying to go outdoors, and not following your lead.
Never, ever, hit or yell at an animal for bathrooming in the wrong place. Rubbing their nose in waste is pure abuse. They'll learn to fear you. They'll become anxious and even more likely to repeat. If they're soiling because they're angry with you, your anger will justify theirs in the same vicious circle as one country making war upon another. You need to find the root cause of the problem.
A note about how inappropriate soiling can start: bring a new pet home when someone can be there most of the time, and your household is calm. Many bad habits start when people bring home pets on holidays. Animals need calm consistency and reassurance. A stress pee on the couch can mean they'll return to that spot. Being handled by excited children will further confuse them and upset their digestive systems. They'll forever associate bathrooming with the anxiety provoking day they came home.
If you're at the end of your rope with this common problem, I can ask your pet why they're doing it. Isn't it time to stop crying over ruined belongings!
#4. I am soooo embarrassed!
This one may surprise you. It's so common, most people don't think about it. You see rescues do it all the time. I've done it, to my regret.
What is this embarrassing thing? Dressing up your pet. If you could hear animals talk, you'd find they display a great deal of dignity and self respect. Many of them are almost formal in the way they address me and make requests of their owners. Dressing up animals is humiliating to most of them, and they'll act out this feeling in any number of ways: destroying your personal belongings, peeing on your bed, even biting.
There's the occasional animal who doesn't mind. If your happy-sappy Labrador comes running with wagging tail and eager expression when you pull out the Santa costume, go ahead. But when you see tight lips, a still tail, flattened ears, that "look" in your pet's eyes-- you've gone too far.
If you've dressed up your pet, it's not too late to apologize. They hear you, and are Masters of forgiveness. Make sure you explain; they'll anxiously anticipate the next embarrassing episode. Imagine if you weren't sure when your best friend was going to hold you down and force a piece of clothing you despise, over your head.
"Don't dress your cat in an apron/just cuz he's learning to bake/Don't dress your horse in a nightgown/just cuz he can't stay awake...Billy DeWolfe from Free To Be You and Me
#5. I Can't Help Myself!
There's baggage with which some pets arrive, that becomes your baggage. I can help
you discover why you and this pet chose each other, what it is your
soul longs to learn.
field inquiries about cats that suck and knead on fabric obsessively,
socially awkward/provocative, bite while playing, have learning
retention difficulties or genuine deficiencies with litter training.
This may stem from kittens being taken from the litter too early.
Eight weeks is minimum, ten or twelve even better. Eating on their own
is not an indication of their being ready for new homes. It's indicative of
careless people who didn't neuter, trying to get rid of these darlings
ASAP. I see "Six week old kittens, ready to go" on the Internet
constantly. It's heartbreaking, as easily preventable behavior
problems often land them on death row in shelters.
learn social behaviors in the litter, and are disciplined
by their mothers. A kitten that's too enthusiastic about
biting while playing, is either swatted by Mama cat, or ganged up
on by the others. You're best to either give a firm, "No," or simply
withdraw your energy while telling your cat you won't play. Don't hit. Visualize peaceful play.
you have a cat with these behaviors, please be understanding. They often can't help it. The litter issue may be
mitigated with time and much patience, thank goodness.
Consider believing that our pets are our teachers. Contemplate what you're learning from your "challenged" pet.
also need to stay in the litter till at least eight weeks, or they may
exhibit puzzling aggression (particularly dog aggression) or
undue timidity. They never learned their place in the pack. Like a
cat, they may display social awkwardness and poor learning retention. Just as with
cats, it may be that your dog didn't even fully develop the neural pathways
to learn as quickly or thoroughly as ones that stayed in the litter for a
healthy amount of time. What is it you need to learn from this challenged puppy? I routinely communicate with pets who were adopted out too early. This helps ease their confusion.
Declawed cats exhibit behaviors such as self mutilation, aggression, depression and severe anxiety. It's unspeakable cruelty. When I was a vet assistant, the procedure was the most horrifying thing I saw. Imagine having all your fingers amputated. You can't make the loss up to them, only show them great love and patience.
Because equines are often large and used actively, their troubling behaviors can be dangerous. One that has been imprinted or
allowed to act like a dog as a foal, will be annoying and even
hazardous. A common behavior that you need to nip in the bud, is biting.
It often stems from being hand fed treats.
may have to call in a professional to deal with certain behaviors.
Horse training is complicated. If you're not experienced, please don't
try to rehab a troubled horse from DVDs or books. It takes years of
practice to learn how.
Neglected or anxious birds or ones that have lost their mates may exhibit symptoms of stress such as feather plucking or refusing to eat. If you rescue a bird that is not eating, it's an emergency. Bird metabolism is so high, they can die within 48 hours. Get the bird to a vet, pronto.
pets fall into their own category, and are one of my specialties. I've
been rescuing for 46 years. They can be frustrating
and costly, yet are extremely rewarding.
#6. I'm tired of the unemployment line.
Pets need a job. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, and Corgis need a sport or a routine task.
In Nature, animals are busy.
They seek out every morsel of food and drop of water, scout out safe housing locations
and construct their own shelters, groom each other, play, fight, dodge predators,
mate and raise young. Inclement weather routinely damages their their nests
or dens, and they set about rebuilding. They travel just for the heck of it, enjoying the changing landscape and acting out their group roles on the move.
Imagine having it in your genes to live that rugged a life, and having nothing to do!
It's more than alleviating boredom. Every species I've spoken with, wants to feel useful. Sure, boredom can cause a multitude of distressing behaviours. Kudos if you supply your dog with a Kong, your horse with a play ball, and your bird with toys. However, toys aren't jobs.
is waking up to this. There are bunny agility
competitions. Rabbits play "tag" in the wild. I've moved furniture to
accommodate lively games, e.g. they love chasing you and each other
around a couch. When they're super happy they do a big leap in the
air, called a binky. It brings tears to my eyes to see a formerly depressed outdoor hutch rabbit, finally get to this stage of expression. A pet's job can be to make you increase your exercise become more playful. Tell them how much you appreciate their efforts.
A dog (Pudsey) recently won Britain's
Got Talent! The Canadian and American Kennel Clubs now allow neutered dogs to compete in all phases of obedience, tracking,
herding, lure coursing, earthdog, agility, Canine Good Citizen testing
and junior showmanship, as well as most field work.
are endlessly creative and playful. You can teach them to
navigate obstacle courses, ring bells, and of course, talk. Some birds
love music, and can even be taught to sing. Cockatiel karaoke! Cats can
told their job is to hunt bugs, and to be your "travel guide" as you
explore the neighborhood in harness. I've had a couple that play fetch
and tag. Some pets are gifted at bringing happiness to institution-bound
people as therapy animals. There is, of course, a multitude of
met fish that swim to greet their owners, even when well fed. Turtles make delightful
companions, if you take the time to know them. Tell them how much you
enjoy their presence. Ask them to guard their corner of your home.
"pocket pets" like ferrets, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice and rats can
be taught tricks or to negotiate obstacle courses. Some will play fetch.
Many get a kick out of snuggling in your clothes and popping out to
surprise people. I've actually heard them giggle when they get the
routinely asked by pets to tell their owners how much they long to be
of service. They want to run, stretch, fly, swim, and have it be
That's one of the reasons why their little souls chose to be with you.
To share special activities. Underperformance in a certain sport
usually means the animal is either sore (very common in horses), or
wants to do something else. We see this all the time in "slow" race
horses who become wonderful dressage horses or loving pleasure mounts.
Maybe your reluctant jumper would like to try Extreme Trail.
I relay to owners what it is their animal longs to do. Imagine being compelled to go to math camp, when you long to sing and dance!
#7. Information please!
Pets need to know they're in their forever home. Every rescued animal I've met has significant anxiety over this. If you're a foster home, gently explain this concept, and enlist the pet's help to find the right forever home. They need to hear it explicitly.
Tell your pet they're with you forever. Back up your words. Have a fund for emergencies or humane euthanasia. Create a plan for the eventuality of your own illness or death, and place it with a lawyer. Occasionally remind your pet that you're keeping them, and they'll always have a home.
If your rescued pet has experienced starvation, explain repeatedly that there will always be enough food. This reassurance will help ease their anxiety, slow down eating, and aid digestion. As food is a survival need, it takes time and patience to calm this anxiety.
For all pets: explain clearly where you are going, and how long you will be gone. Companion animals are truly helpless in our homes, kennels, paddocks and cages. Explain yourself each time, the same way you would to your beloved mate. While you're away, send reassuring messages through mental images.
them know you're taking them to the vet because you care about their
health. Promise their favourite treat afterwards, and follow up. If you've
ever had an overnight hospital stay, you can empathize with how
confusing and frightening it is to be left at the vet clinic. In
the same way, explain and reassure regarding pet sitters, day cares,
Check in mentally. Some animals understand time, others do
best with concepts such as, "Three sleeps," "When the
sun is almost down," or, "Right after your breakfast."
Some pet sitting services are having great success with web cams, and
I encourage you to set this up with a pet sitter.
Speak with your animals, listen to them carefully, and they'll speak to you! Once they realize you're listening, their personalities will bloom in amazing ways.
I hope this report has been useful for you! Our animal companions are with us to teach us, enlighten us and bring us joy. If you've made mistakes, as I have, please forgive yourself and move on. Apologize to your pet, and see their eyes light up. They do understand.
I bring to Animal Communication sessions a lifetime of training, caring for and rehabbing animals. I can help you get to the root of behavior problems, choose activities your pet loves, even contact animals at the Rainbow Bridge. I have a special gift with rescued animals. Just as with people, listening to their fears can ease their anxiety and challenging behaviors.
How much money, time and energy have you spent on: damaged property, training tools, lost work/sleep/social time, conflicts with neighbours, physical injury, disappointment at shows?
An animal communication session will set you on the road to a truly harmonious relationship. If your pet has longstanding, complex behavioral issues, I'm willing to work with you through more than one session.
I also offer Teleparties, pre-adoption/purchase personality analysis, and compassionate euthanasia accompaniment. A full list of services is here.
Thank you for reading Are You Driving Your Pet Crazy? I hope you'll send your friends to my Home page to request it, as well.
I look forward to hearing from you and your pet.
Expert Animal Communicator
Thank you, Stephenie Mathis-Gonzales, for your photo of Pickles, the glow-eyed kitty in the centre of the photo collage!