My girl Ammulett, a nine year old Leonberger, loves ‘cookies’ which I keep in a jar on my
Butcher Block table. In her mind, there should be ‘X’ number of cookies doled out during the day and if that does not occur, she will nudge the jar with her nose whenever I go to the kitchen. Sometimes I indulge her, sometimes not.
On this particular day, she has had enough to my way of thinking. Of course, she thinks differently but I am firm. My body language says ‘no’. I’m standing straight, shoulders low and back, looking her right in the eye without a twinkle of humor. My voice is in command mode; no nonsense there. Yet, her tail starts to move, swaying back and forth ever so slowly, her front feet dance just a little in anticipation of the treat. She knows she’s won. I, on the other hand, am dense. I still think I can win this. But in the end, no, it is done and I wonder what I did wrong as I flip her a treat.
Most of us understand the basics of communicating with our animal friends. Voice should be this, body language should be that and you must be consistent. They are all true. But they leave out an important factor; your energy. While is it true our companions are incredibly gifted when it comes to reading body language, there is one thing that they are even quicker at analyzing and that is energy. They are the masters at discovering your true intentions by reading the energy that you are projecting.
We have all heard the phrase, ‘Your energy goes right down that leash.’, and while the sentiment is true, animals will feel the energy well before any physical contact. It’s the reason some dogs don’t like Aunt Sue and others cover hundreds of miles to return home and why they keep close physical touch when you are sad or upset.
Let’s return to the above scenario with Ammulett. I have sometimes gone by the cookie jar, told her lightly, ‘no’ and that was the end of it. She knew. What was the difference between the two events? In hindsight, I remember thinking she shouldn’t have a cookie, but then what would be the harm. That was all it took. I still said no with words and body language, but my energy betrayed me…as it often does….by projecting what I was truly feeling which was indecision in this case. It always states what it is. Energy has no guile. Body language, voice and behavior can help get the results, but only if the energy is saying the same thing.
Energy is the real truth between you and your companion, the real truth between all living things. You have experienced it yourself. Think back to a day you met someone for the first time and you didn’t ‘like’ him. It wasn’t anything he said or did; it was just something about him that made you not trust him. That is energy at work.
Consider what your energy is saying to your companion next time you give guidance or are working on a training exercise. Does your energy match with your body and vocal language? Think of the whole package you are presenting and you will get better results with a closer bond to your companion.