It’s easy to prevent an animal or human-animal from improving when we’re stuck in the same mindset.
Allow me to explain. We might not notice or think about it much on an average day or with a very confident animal. But it’s always there — affecting us on a daily basis in all of our interactions.
When I’m in a round corral with a mustang, I can’t avoid the obvious effect I have on them. We have to be even more of a convincing leader for a wild horse. When reaching out to touch them for the first time, I can’t have a cautious, sneaky demeanor. How freaked out would you be if someone reached out to touch you super slow and cautious (almost worried) way?
You have to be confident and calm so that they can feel there is nothing to worry about. They won’t be able to relax (or it will be much harder to and take a 100x longer) if your hand is shaking and you’re worried every minute that they might move. It’s like if you’re sitting on a bus and there’s a person acting terrified and yelling that the bus will blow up. You wouldn’t be able to completely relax and just calmly look out the window. In some way, you would definitely be put on edge. So for our animals, they can’t relax if we’re freaking out about them freaking out.
Relax. Sure, you can move slow, I even recommend that at first, but don’t be sneaky about it like you’ll grab them the first chance you get. That’s creepy for them! Reach up like you’re going to shake a person’s hand. Maybe don’t even touch them at all. If an animal’s so scared that you feel you have to be cautious and worried — don’t touch them. Unless, of course, it’s a life-or-death situation and you have to save them.
Doing things (moving) cautiously can make an animal wonder if there is something to be cautious about. Move with calm confidence so that they can feel alright.