Did you know that January is national train your dog month? But this article is FAR more than about dogs and training.
While other articles you may find focus on traditional training tips, here you will find extra-ordinary tips that can apply to any animal you want to “train.”
When Kim was around 12, she trained her collie to do many different behaviors. When she was 24, she raised her now 30 year old mare from a yearling and started her groundwork and under saddle training herself. When Kim worked at the Houston Zoo, she supervised the training of a vast variety of animals. Kim had to review and approve the zookeepers’ detailed training plans for any animal they wanted to work with, whether it was a goat, deer, coati, porcupine, bird of prey or other species. She was able to help troubleshoot training issues that resulted in harmonious partnerships.
There really is an additional level that most people aren’t aware of. We like to call this the Heart & Soul Approach.
First off, the animals know so much more than most people realize, and we need “training” as much as they do.
But instead of using the word “train”, which is not as bad as saying “break” as in “break a horse to ride”, how about we use the word “partnership” to reflect the relationship we want with animals?
While we do have some students that are animal trainers, the majority of animal trainers in the world are very left brained and do not see the animal from a WHOLE approach – body, mind and spirit.
This holistic animal care (HAC) approach makes a WORLD of difference for both pet parents and animal professionals.
If you are a regular reader of our articles, you know far more than the average pet parent or animal lover.
Here is how the animals truly want to be “trained” and have a partnership with you, on a heart and soul level:
- Think of all animals as sentient beings that can think, feel and reason, just like you. Let this be your mindset. There is so much depth to their souls than what most people realize.
- View animals as equals among themselves AND equal partners with you. Be grounded in this belief. Animals can tell when people think otherwise.
- Use natural training tools such as the gentle leader face collar that works on acupressure points or the front clip harness that helps prevent the animal from pulling. When an animal pulls on a leash on a regular collar or harness, this can result in muscle strains and bones that become out of alignment. Keep in mind that retractable leashes can actually jerk your animal’s neck and also cause these problems. Animal chiropractors see these issues frequently. Keep in mind that when the body is out of alignment, this can actually affect the organs and immune system.
- Tell an animal out loud what you want them to do, and picture it clearly in your mind. Focus on what you want to manifest with the animal, not on what you don’t want to see happen. When your words and thoughts turn to the negative, you can confuse your animal, not to mention, make the situation even more undesirable.
- Offering a desirable reward to an animal when they behave properly can provide you with more positive results. Determine what the animal would like as their reward. You may have ideas such as some kind of food reward, but animals don’t always respond well to that because most are given treats regularly. Therefore, a food reward is often not considered ‘special’ to them. You can use animal communication to find out exactly what the animal wants. What we’ve found over the years is that most animals want more special, one-on-one time with their pet parent. That to them is the icing on the cake. In a recent article by Dr. Karen Becker, it discussed what shelter dogs really want. Research showed that the dogs preferred petting over praise and a combination of short walks and in-kennel petting sessions over more frequent or longer walks without petting sessions. You can read more here.
- Tell the animal out loud what the reward will be for the desirable behavior. Make sure you follow through with the positive reward so that your animal gets reinforced for the good behavior and builds their trust in you. Keep reminding them of the desired behavior and reward.
Does your animal enjoy the activities you are doing with them? Maybe you have trained your dog to do a sport like agility. Or maybe you show your horse. Perhaps you are trying to do something with your cat. Are they enjoying it? Or maybe they used to seem to enjoy it but don’t anymore. Or are there many challenges that keep happening? Some pet parents try to find something they can do with their animal but sometimes, the animal doesn’t seem focused or happy. Or maybe they get injured or ill and you wonder why. While many things affect the health of an animal, know that emotions also play an important role in their physical well-being. The activity may make us happy, but it may not thrill our animals. When an animal is made to do something that brings you joy but makes them unhappy, this can lead you astray from a beautiful heart and soul relationship. Rethink your ideas so that you include their feelings. You never know, maybe your animal really wants to dance.
- Consider looking beyond talking out loud to your animal. While speaking out loud to them is fantastic and a big step forward in the partnership, there is something extra-special you can do that takes things to a whole other level. If you have ever wondered why your animal behaves like they do, how they are feeling, what they really want to do or what they need from you, there is a way to find out. It is called animal communication or interspecies communication, where you connect your heart to the animal’s heart, and talk mind to mind. Yes, you can know what they are thinking because they will tell you. To us, and many who have experienced this for themselves, this is life changing and the secret to a profound relationship with animals – and even all of life. Anyone is capable of bringing this innate ability forward. Pet parents and all kinds of animal professionals have learned how to communicate with animals with us, including vets, trainers, groomers, pet sitters and boarding facility staff.
- Keep in mind that you know your animal better than anyone else. Don’t automatically presume that every trainer knows the best way to help your animal. And just because a trainer can produce results, ask yourself how are they actually getting those results. Sadly, some trainers are using harsh means to “train” an animal, which not only may produce temporary results, but ultimately damages your relationship with your animal. You can take training into your own hands and if you seek a trainer, wouldn’t it be awesome to know that they knew how to train on this heart and soul level?
So, you now have the inside scoop on this growing trend that most animal lovers are not aware of yet.
Whether you train your own animals, train animals professionally, or just want to have a deeper partnership with animals, consider these tips.
Know that you can make a big difference in the lives of animals when you view relationship building and training from their heart and soul.
Heart & Soul Training Blessings!
Kim & Allison
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