Building relationships can take a bit of effort, with humans and animals alike. If you just can’t seem to connect to your or someone else’s pet, don’t worry! Personalities vary greatly and some can take more time than others to “click” with one another. Here are helpful tips to help you bond with a new pet, a pet you’ve never seemed to see eye to eye with, or the pet of a loved one.
Understanding Possible Trauma
Humans and animals both hold onto memories and the impressions those memories have made on their psyche, for long amounts of time. No trauma looks the same, and it is not uncommon for some animals to take a long amount of time to trust humans. Abuse towards animals can be both emotional and physical. Below are resources to help you better understand how to offer support to an animal who has been abused in the past, and how to identify signs that your pet may have experienced trauma in the past.
One great way to show an animal that you notice them behaving positively, and to show that you care for them, is positive reinforcement. This can be achieved by giving your pet a treat when they listen to a command, playing with them/offering physical affection to keep them engaged, and by verbally praising them.
Set Up A “Safe Space” For Your Pet
This is a fun way to help an animal become more comfortable within your home and with those around them. Set up a pet bed for them in a quiet part of the house, make sure it is large enough for their body to lay on comfortably. This safe area should be set up with access to food, water, litter box, etc. It can be helpful to wash a new pet bed with detergents used in your household, so it smells more familiar to them. Additionally, think about adding toys and a blanket to help it become even cozier. To solidify the fact that it is their space, consider giving your pet treats and affection when they are first introduced to their new space– to let them know they are safe and cared for when there. You giving them access to an area of safety helps them not only feel comfortable in the house they are in… but also with you, the human, who gave that sense of security to them.
More tips on setting up a safe place for your pet:
Many pet-related businesses offer training classes that work with dogs and their owners. Going through training classes with your pup has similar results to that of team-building exercises for humans. It aids a sense of teamwork to strengthen and evolve between owner and pet, as well as helping your pup become more familiar with listening to your commands.
Never underestimate the power of a little bonding time. Even if you and the pet you are wishing to bond with are not directly interacting, going about your daily routine with them near you can help greatly. It both makes them feel a part of your everyday life, and you a part of theirs. This establishes a routine for the owners and pets involved and is a large step towards coexisting with ease.
Loving Them Anyway
Not to sound similar to the final stage of grief, but a level of acceptance is important in some cases. Not every animal is the same, and sometimes, pets will only bond to one human–if any. Unfortunately, that one human isn’t always you. It could be a spouse, family member, or friend that they finally connect to. In this case, it is very important to accept this fact and love them anyway. Just because they are not bonded to you, does not mean they don’t care for you in their own special way. Show them love, and take care of them. You never know, that bridge could be built in the future when you least expect it.
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