The Constant (Animal) ParentOct 17, 2023
Fur kids, just like human kids, need consistency.
You just can’t say one day “it’s okay to jump on the counter” and then the next tell them to get off. Well, you can, but you’ll end up with a puzzled being who is completely schizophrenic - or who may just leave home.
Consistency is key when you’re trying to make a point about some behavior. Also, say what you WANT, not what you don’t want.
What two year old can resist running out in front of cars when you tell them “Don’t cross the road!”
Animals, again like human children, just don’t get that word don’t - or can’t - or any other way of saying what you don’t want. Tell them what you WANT.
Follow up a brushing of body to the floor with ”Stay off the counter,” instead of “Don’t jump on the counter.” (Delete the don’t word and what do you get? “Jump on the counter.” “OKAY, I’m doing what you say I should do!” purrs madam kitty, who then does not understand why you’re calling her a “bad cat” for doing what you asked.) We are talking cats here (unless you have a really athletic dog), so “Stay off the counter” may be a losing battle, unless you’re willing to be in it for the long haul. Cats aren’t dumb, they just have a long testing phase. “Does she really mean it?” If you quit before they finally agree that yes, you do mean it, you will have a cat on the counter for the rest of its life.
(Me personally, I let the cats on the bed, on the counter, upstairs, downstairs, they pretty much have the run of the house - except for my pillow. I’ve gotten really good at “Stay off my pillow.” Mostly they listen. Sometimes they just run really fast and hope I won’t see them. But I am consistent, and ever hopeful that one day going from one side of the bed to the other will involve places on the bed other than my pillow.)
What habit(s) do you wish YOUR animal friend would quit doing? Come up with a way to tell them what you want, and prepare to be consistent, firm, fair, and loving. When they do it right, let them know. When they do it wrong, it’s not “Bad Dog!” Or “Naughty Cat!” Or “Frightful Gerbil!’ They are good animals. It’s the behavior that’s unacceptable.
”Bad behavior!” They get that. “Bad dog!” Implies that they are a worthless piece of s—-, and they’re not. Their behavior is unacceptable, not them.
It doesn’t pay to get mad, or get even. What pays is consistency and kindness.
Works for most humans, too.
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