I don’t know what I expected when I started reading Talking with Dogs and Cats, but it wasn’t what I got. I’ve read quite a few of the animal behavior books we have in the library, and this one is unique. It was actually pretty gratifying to know that, instinctively, I’ve been doing a lot of things the author, Tim Link, suggests. For example, he encourages us to talk to our pets – not just a lot of orders and instructions, but greet them in the morning and when you come home from work. When they go to the window and bark madly, walk over and try to see what set them off. Acknowledge the squirrel or UPS man, and thank them for bringing it to your attention. Tell them when to stop and reward them for stopping.
Pets need to feel that they have a job, and that job may be watching out that window and letting you know what’s going on in the wide world. Yelling at them to be quiet is likely to be ineffective, and, actually, counterproductive.
When you have multiple pets, it’s hard not to have a favorite, but you still need to spend time and pay focused attention to the others. You’ll be rewarded with a better understanding of the animal and a better relationship. I can attest to this. Since reading the book, I’ve made a point of communing with the dog who is not my favorite – an dachshund whose single-minded dedication to finding any edible object and barking about it, does not usually make one want to spend discretionary time with him. His sister, on the other hand, is incredibly loveable and has many interests other than seeking out and swallowing things before she’s quite clear about what they are.
Anyway, Mini Mutt and I have been having one-on-one conversations and I really feel that we have been connecting. When we run out of things to talk about, we sit companionably together. It’s very nice to have these calm times to balance other times where we’re both shouting in our own ways.
You may not agree with every bit of advice in this book, but any book that causes you to look at things from another’s point of view is always valuable.