Pet Parent Overwhelm: Are You Expecting Too Much From Your Pet?Feb 09, 2022
Are you dealing with the frustration of pet behavior problems? Do you have two pets who can't seem to get along? Have you tried everything and still the best way to describe your relationship with your pet is "it's complicated?" Animal communicator Shannon Cutts talks about what animal communication can and cannot do.
I am on a Zoom with a woman and her dog. It is clear they are meant to be keeping company with each other. Yet, the woman is also clearly frustrated.
Her new pup is an adult rescue. He has both the enthusiasm and the life skills of an eight-week-old puppy...as well as about the same amount of bladder control and impulse inhibition.
My client is starting to think she made the wrong choice. Can she really handle a dog who needs so much, well, work?
As the conversation continues, it becomes clear that deep-seated anxiety is at the root of this pup's inappropriate elimination.
The anxiety is coming from not having a home, a family, a place and a person to belong to. For various reasons, this dog has been in and out of "the system" nearly his whole life. He wants so badly to make a good impression and be allowed to stay with his new person. She wants it to work out too.
But in the meantime, during this trial period together, his anxiety is so off-the-charts bad he can't seem to curb his behavioral and elimination issues no matter what she tries.
They are in a catch-22. She tells me that until she sees proof this dog can control his peeing, chewing, barking, lunging, etc, she can't feel confident to make the commitment. Her dog tells me until he knows for sure he is home for real, he can't let go of the anxiety that triggers these unwelcome behaviors.
So what is it going to be?
Who is going to break their stalemate?
By the end of our session, my client is finally clear about what is causing the standoff. And about two hours after that, she sends me a triumphant email to share that she has made the commitment! I respond with congratulations and delight.
The next morning, she emails me again. Her new forever dog just peed all over the carpet. Uh-gain. Did she speak too soon? Did she make the wrong choice? Will her dog ever change?
What do you think? What would you do if you were in her shoes?
Last week I was on a group call with my business coach. She shared how in business as in life, typically we all want change and we also don't want to change.
Whether it is attracting (or keeping) a partner, achieving work success, eating healthier, finishing a creative project or training our dog to use only the designated potty area or not to jump up on our couch, we typically expect these big changes to manifest as soon as we realize we want them.
We also tend to need a lot more time, repetition and patience to achieve these changes than we think we are going to need.
So does our pet. (So does every other being in our life, for that matter....regardless of species.)
So while it is tempting to expect that all it will take to get a new rescue dog stop peeing in the house is one half-hour call with an animal communicator and the realization of where the holdup is coming from, the truth is, this initial investment won't even come close to completely resolving the issues.
There is a whole heck of a lot more to it than that.
In most cases, my role as the animal intuitive is simply to open up the lines of communication by serving as an interspecies translator of sorts.
I can help you and your pet talk to each other, ask questions, air grievances, clear up confusion, ease misunderstandings, identify needs, wants and goals.
I can also help the two of you identify what changes you are each willing to make to find a middle ground and then to identify the types of support you might need to make them.
And I can also provide you support along the way as, slowly and surely, you each tackle the internal and external changes and adjustments that need to be made to achieve the hoped-for outcomes.
But in the meantime, it is vital to remember that, just as your current interspecies dynamic has probably taken some time to form and solidify, so too will it take some time to replace what you do now with something new that is preferable.
Right now, think of a habit, pattern or routine you use regularly. Maybe it is brushing and flossing right before bedtime or watching the same sitcom every Tuesday night.
Now think about suddenly changing that behavior and doing something else instead. You might feel a twinge of anxiety or resistance. Maybe you feel more than a twinge.
The truth is, we build trust in ourselves and in our lives through what we do and how we are. This is how we get comfortable with the way things are and don't want to change, even if the way things are isn't working for us anymore.
And this is why we want the other party, be it our partner, our boss, our kids or our pet, to be the one to change.
And we want them to do it yesterday so all will go smoothly between us once more.
As an animal communicator, it is my privilege and burden to know what I know - that animals come into our lives to teach us, mentor us, inspire us, comfort us, guide us. And that they also come into our lives to have their own life experiences that correspond to their life goals and purpose.
The animals we keep company with are not there to make our lives easier necessarily, but rather to make our shared lives deeper, richer and more rewarding....and ultimately, more alive.
Even as I type, the old model of owner and pet is dying a long overdue death.
The new model of interspecies companions invites us to interact across the species divide as equals.
At the heart of this new model is the recognition that your pet is not acting out, eliminating or barking inappropriately or doing whatever-it-is that is working your last nerve for no reason. Your animal always has a reason for why they do what they do, just like you always have a reason for why you do what you do (even if you don't know what it is or have forgotten what it is).
So if you want your pet to change what they are doing, first you must understand their reasons for doing it. Then there is room to talk and negotiate in both directions for different and more desirable behaviors.
Are you struggling with disharmony in your interspecies family? I can help!
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