A new client, Mary, scheduled an appointment to talk to her dog Jake, a Jack Russell terrier. Mary was honest with me from the start — she said she’d never done animal communication before and wasn’t really sure she believed in it. I assured her that was OK — it can be hard for a lot of people to believe it’s possible until they experience it.
Mary said that she had to crate Jake whenever she left the house because he would destroy the house if she left him out when she wasn’t home. Mary said that Jake never damaged anything while she was home. Mary told me she felt bad about crating Jake and would love to leave Jake loose in the house if she felt confident that he wouldn’t destroy things while she was gone.
I asked Jake what happened if Mary left him loose in the house when she was gone. Jake showed me that he would destroy pillows, bedding, couch cushions and pretty much anything else he could get his teeth on with complete and utter joy! It was so much fun for him to do this — the more he could tear things apart, the happier he was!
I asked Jake if he thought he could stop destroying things. He was very honest and blunt, “NO — it’s too much fun.” I told him that Mary felt bad that she had to shut him up in his crate when she wasn’t home and that if Jake could stop destroying things, Mary would love to be able to leave him loose in the house. Jake thought about this for a minute and finally told me that he didn’t think he’d be able to stop destroying things — so it was best for both of them if Mary put him in the crate when she was gone — that way, Mary wouldn’t get mad at him and he wouldn’t get in trouble.
When I told Mary this, she was non-plussed and said, “Then WHY won’t he go in the crate when it’s time for me to leave?” Mary told me that every time she had to leave the house, Jake would run away from her — it always took 20 minutes or longer for Mary to catch Jake and get him into his crate. This made leaving the house a time consuming and frustrating project that was no fun for Mary and only made her tense and angry.
I asked Jake what happened when it was time for Mary to leave the house. Jake showed me that, from his perspective, when Mary prepared to leave the house, it was the signal that it was time for one of Jake’s favorite games — the chase game! Jake showed me that he LOVED the chase game. He was very , very good at the game — zig-zagging around and under furniture, zipping around corners — Mary had to work hard to catch him and Jake loved every minute of it! Jake really didn’t understand why Mary didn’t seem to enjoy the game, since it was SO much fun for him!
I explained to Jake that the chase game was definitely NOT fun for Mary. I reminded Jake that Mary took very good care of him — gave him good food, safe shelter, took him to the vet when he needed to go, gave him a great yard to play in, played with him as much as she could and that she loved Jake very, very much. Jake said he knew Mary loved him — she told him all the time. I told Jake that a great way for him to show Mary how much he loved her and appreciated all the things she did for him would be to get into the crate immediately — without playing the chase game — when it was time for Mary to leave the house. I told him that Mary would be happy to play the chase game at other time if he wanted to (Mary happily agreed to that) but when it was time for Mary to leave, he needed to get right into the crate.
Jake gave this plan serious thought. Finally he said, “Could I get a treat if I go right into the crate?” I checked with Mary and she said, “If he goes right into the crate when I tell him it’s time to go in the crate, he can definitely have a treat!” I told Jake this and he said, “Could I have three treats?” Again, Mary said three treats was acceptable — as long as he went right into the crate. I told Jake three treats was OK with Mary.
Jake then told me when he wanted the treats to be given. He showed me that he wanted one treat when he got to the door of the crate, then he would go in the crate. He wanted the last two treats when he was inside the crate. I told Mary when Jake wanted to be given the treats. She said, “Fine — as long as he goes in the crate and stays in the crate!” Jake said he would stay in the crate if he was given his three treats.
At this point Mary seemed a little distracted and asked if I could hold on for a few minutes. I told her I could — I assumed that the door bell had rung or her cell phone was ringing. Mary left the phone and I waited.
When Mary got back on the phone, several minutes later, she apologized for making me wait. She said, “I’m sorry, but I had to try to get Jake in the crate. I couldn’t believe it would actually work, but it did!” Mary told me she told Jake he had to go in his crate. She said Jake went right to the door of the crate and waited there, looking at her expectantly. Mary gave Jake one treat and he went right into the crate. Mary gave Jake two more treats and he stayed in the crate when Mary closed the door!
Mary said, “I would not have believed this was possible if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes!”
Sometimes coming up with a solution for an animal’s behavior issue can be a matter of changing their (or our) perception of the issue, giving the animal emotional support, adjusting circumstances to make it easier for the animal to behave appropriately or — as in Jake’s case — making a deal. Whatever works is the right solution!
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