I’m really not proud of it, but recently I pushed a friend – who was staying at our house – off our sofa! Find out why below (as well as how to avoid doing it yourself) …
It’s the festive season and if you are like us you probably have lots of people coming to visit and/or stay. What do you do if these people (who might be strangers to your animals) come in and engage with your animals in ways you don’t want?
Recently this happened to us. A friend who was staying with us pushed our dog, Fibi, off the sofa! This was something we (Wifey and I) had never personally done and/or seen anyone else do before, and I reacted by returning the favour – I pushed our friend of the sofa. I regret doing it, it’s not how I wanted to handle the situation, but at the same time I’m also super grateful, as it taught me a tonne.
Needless to say, they were shocked and confused as to why I would do such a thing … then this was followed by a meaningful conversation about how they had just done the same thing to Fibi-dog!
The reason I feel bad about it, is that in the moment I acted irrationally & out of character, based on my emotions. Even though I did it as a joke – the strategy I employed goes against what I believe in & I definitely wouldn’t do it again! But it did raise some really interesting thoughts for me…
What do you expect from visitors to your house when it comes to your animals and how can you help set your visitors up for success?
Side-note; I get great practice at this over Christmas as we currently have Wifey’s mum and step dad staying with us – you can see Fibi-dog perched beautifully between me and “step father in-law“ in the photo below;
So, as I continue to learn about how to best set everyone up for success, I thought I would compile a list. Below you can see 5 things you can do to help set your visitors up for success – in relation to your animals;
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1) Train desirable behaviours from your animals that will help them be successful.
For example, we have a station for Fibi-dog next to my chair at the dinner table. This way if need be, we can ask Fibi to station in exchange for positive reinforcement at times when visitors might not want her around.
2) Explain how things work to your guests in advance and/or lower the criteria you expect from your guests until you get an opportunity to discuss things through with them and make sure they understand.
I feel we need to practice compassion that others have different experience with animals and don’t share the same knowledge about behavior. What do you think?
3) When you see your visitors engage with your animals in a way that you like ensure to communicate to them that you like what they do and why you like it!
4) Set up some situations where your guests can do some training with you and your animals to help build the relationships on both sides.
For example, we just did some simple training yesterday where my mother in law called Fibi-dog to her station in the front entrance area of our house. My mother in law then slowly closed our entrance door and loaded Fibi in the car. Fibi got lots of chicken and the Mother in-law really enjoyed the interaction!
5) Be vigilant and manage the environment as best you can to help set you, your animals and your guest up as best as possible.
For example, if I see that someone is about to sit at the dining room table with some delicious food… I can be pretty certain T-lo the cat will be quick to investigate. I avoid the cat-face-in-meal problem by giving T-lo alternative activities to do or asking T-lo to move into another area of the house for a short while.
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These are 5 quick ideas I have been implementing, but there are obviously lots more. What are some things you do to prepare your guests to help them be successful with your animals?
Looking forward very much to your thoughts!
Animal Training Academy
P.s got some spare travel time over the Christmas holidays! Make sure to stay updated with all the latest & greatest for the ATA podcast show here >>> bit.ly/ATA-podcasts