I see it all the time with people and their animal partners. Even in human relationships! We mirror each other’s behaviors and habits. It’s always the neurotic rider who says their horse won’t calm down and spooks at things too much. Or the grumpy dog owner with the aggressive dog. Or the snobby housewife with the spoiled, stubborn cat. Or, or, or…
For me, having balanced relationships (with animals or other people) comes from realizing that we are all either a mirror or a sponge. We’re either affecting others by causing them to see or feel positively or negatively, or we’re the one absorbing it and allowing it to affect us.
Could be good or bad…
In most cases, our animals are the sponges. The characteristics you see in your animal companion is more often than not a characteristic that you have. In other words, it’s a behavior that you introduced into their life. A neighbor of mine bought a puppy a while back that came to them as the sweetest little dog you could have wished for. My neighbor had a gruff, odd way of communicating (not just to the dog), got offended very easily, and was a rather boring, mid-life-crisis kinda guy.
This puppy was different after being with him for little over a month. She began to act just like him, and started nipping at the legs of strangers, bark at nothing in particular – she was on edge and easily annoyed or frustrated. This poor dog was no longer the happy puppy she was just a month prior.
So before calling an animal “lazy”, “aggressive” or “hyper”, take a look at how you act in these areas of your life.
If the animal is lazy… do you do sport everyday? If so, is this animal with you so that you’re giving them a chance to get exercise and become fit?
If the animal is aggressive or moody toward other animals and people… are you? Do you tense up every time something walks by for fear that your animal friend will be aggressive? This sends the message through your body to theirs, telling them that you’re fearful of the oncoming situation, so they act on it.
If they are hyper… do you have a high-energy personality? Are you constantly running around and never relaxing for a while? Do you never spend enough time to stimulate their mind and body through physical and mental exercise?
For fun, I wanted to show this clip from 101 Dalmatians, to give you an idea. It’s more for the humor, but the dog and owner similarities that this scene is shining light on can be observed by anyone people-watching in the city. I’m sure you’ve seen this in others with their dogs. Now take a look at your own relationship with yours!