What is Pet Psychology?
Pet psychology, animal psychology, pet or animal behavior study, is the understanding of canine, feline or equine behavior, instincts and social rituals in their natural habitat as well as in our unnatural human environment.
Animal psychologists and pet behaviorists use these understanding to educate human caretakers how to act and respond to animals based on their natural body language and social rituals. Pet psychologist and behaviorist also use these understanding to redirect unwanted natural behavior and instincts, without suppression, in order to help human adapt animals to our society in a safe and acceptable manner.
Pet psychology is all about helping dogs, cats and horses feel safe, confident and secure inside and outside our homes. True animal psychology is based on observing and learning from canine natural pack behavior, feline solitary natural instincts and equine herd mentality, then modify the rules for interspecies co-existence.
Pet psychology is not obedience training, clicker training nor training pets to do cute tricks. Obedience and tricks may satisfy us human but their satisfaction for animals are only skin deep. The intent and psychological result of applying animal psychology is not training animals to be obedient slaves or happy robots ... but to provide satisfaction to the deepest yearning of the animals - to be who they are - animals - who happen to live with human. Always select your animal behaviorist carefully and don't hesitate to fire them if you suspect what they are doing is harming your pet's psyche.
Traditional dog or horse training are full of punishment and cruelty, based on a particular set of human consciousness. Newer canine and equine training are based on either positive reinforcement alone which works well for puppies, young animals and mild mannered pets, or a combination of corrections (not punishment) and positive reinforcement which works better for fearful, nervous, obsessed, aggressive or dominant pets.
The best method is the one that is based on stable pack leadership and that it works for you and your pet's particular temperament. There is no right or wrong way provided the methods do not punish or harm the animal physically or psychologically, or give them the wrong signals.
Depending on their past, some animals need to rebuild confidence while others need to step down from their leadership role. The foundation for any harmonious interspecies relationship is solid, stable and balanced pack leadership. Every animal needs to feel safe and protected by this pack leader who is centered, alert, present, calm and in charge. Anyone who is aggressive, hyper-excitable, fearful or weak-minded are not suitable pack leaders.
Animals can sense your real energy regardless of how well you fake it! Therefore, your commitment to leadership, patience, understanding, presence and consistency are important to the success of any rehabilitation work for animals.
What is Pet Emotional Therapy?
Pet emotional therapy considers the personality, feelings and spirit of the pet. Pet emotional therapy is the perfect companion to pet psychology, not a replacement, making life easier for the animal and the human pack leader in a rehabilitation program.
Pet emotional therapy seeks to release the emotional and energetic blocks, locked up in the mind and body of the animal, whether from deliberate or unintentional damages as a result of living with us.
Pet emotional therapy is excellent for dealing with unresolved emotions, unhealthy mentality and loss of confidence due to unclear human-pet relationship, unclear pack social structure (at home), past abuse, trauma, feeling of rejection and abandonment when taken from the animal pack, new surroundings, jealousy, grief, fear, stress in the household and other emotions that are either obstacles to behavior rehabilitation or unrelated altogether.
Depending on the cause of the behavior problem, pet emotional therapy can be used alone or in conjunction with a pet rehabilitation program.
Often pet emotional therapy aids and speeds up the training and recovery process for fear-based aggression, dominant-aggression, surgery and drug-related aggression, nervousness, jealousy, unresponsiveness, psychological stress and grief.
The Concept behind Pet Emotional Therapy and Pet Psychology
As an animal lover, guardian, communicator and healer, I have experienced the joy and frustration of taking care of animal companions. I realize that most problems can be resolved, as long as we are willing to understand how and why pets learn to behave the way they do in the first place.
The key to healing emotional/behavior issues is understanding how animals behave and learn in their natural habitat and their species-specific natural instincts. This way we learn how best to adjust them to our human environment, teach them human rules the way they can understand, remove sources of stress, and provide stability and security that they need
We can help them achieve inner confidence and calmness, choose good manners and exercise safe behavior in our world. This is very different from forcing submission or teaching human values which is not their nature. To do this properly, we need to look at life with us humans from the pet's point of view and think like them.
Let’s look at this comparison: The relationship between you and your employer at work (or your employees) vs. your relationship with your pet.
"An employer who yells, threatens, pushes, punishes and manipulates without respecting you may get their way, but you are not going to be a happy, loyal and psychologically happy employee.
An employer who bribes and lets you get away with lies, manipulation, laziness and poor work ethics may gain your cooperation from time to time, but you will not respect this individual and when the situation suits you, you will likely ignore him/her.
On contrast, an employer who cares, teaches, guides, leads, provides clear rules and directions, encourages, empowers, corrects, rewards and focuses on understanding your potential will bring out the best in you, make you happy and earn your respect."
The latter is the energy and intention behind emotional/behaviour therapy with pet companions.
How can Pet Emotional Therapy & Animal Psychology help pets?
Often people ask for therapy when their animals are behaving at an unbearable level and are risking losing their home or even euthanasia. Other times, the animals are so stressed, destructive or out of control that well-intentioned people can no longer enjoy their beloved pets. A rehabiliation program using both animal psychology and emotional pet therapy can work together to help you and your pets reverse this toxic trend and live in mutual harmony.
Emotional healing is crucial to animals who have suffered in the human world. Inadequate pack leadership, improper training techniques, fright, trauma, abuse, absorbing too much stress from their human companions and family disharmony - all contribute to ill emotional, physical and mental health.
Animals retain past memories just like we do. When a negative memory is triggered by a current event, the pet may act irrational but they are re-acting the past trauma. We need to help them heal these scars. Flower essences, or vibrational essences, are often used to do that. Emotional Freedom Technique is another powerful tool. Both methods are used for humans as well as animals.
Sometimes, pets also need help in mental focus, emotional and physical support for life challenges, in our unnatural environment, such as training, moves, family changes, traveling, birth, pregnancy, illness, accident, surgery, loss of loved ones and death.
How Does it Work?
Usually, an animal behaviorist or pet psychologist will interview you about the current situation. They will visit and assess your home environment, and draw up a behavior modification plan for you and your pet. It is honestly more education for the pet guardian than the pet. Once the human is trained, s/he can act like a pack leader and the pet will no longer be confused. It is very important to choose a behaviorist with evolved, non-violent techniques.
As for emotional therapy, in our Holistic Pet Wellness Consultation, we review your pet's emotional and behaviour symptoms and research the most relevant flower essences, homeopathic remedies, therapy and/or home based behaviour treatment for your pet.
Vibrational essences and EFT are often used for emotional healing, in conjunction with guardian education and positive behavior modification. Note that sometimes outward symptoms indicate a deeper energy imbalance and may need diet change, veterinary, homeopathic and other alternative pet care.