Animal Boundaries – Respect Them and Get Respect Back

 An Example of Your “Energy Field”

You are standing in line at the post office, and the man behind you is standing very close, shifting his weight, and then coughs. It feels like he coughed right on the back of your neck. You shift forward, and he shifts as well. Has something similar to this ever happened to you? How did you feel? Comfortable? Anxious? Annoyed? Maybe even left the line? This is an example of your energy field acting as a boundary. You have a “bubble” around you that acts as a barrier to other peoples’ (and animals’) energies.

Examples of Animal Boundaries

These “bubbles” around the horses represent the different layers. Some animals have an “average” boundary, while others, like a mare and foal, will have a larger boundary, and will defend it. Animals are extremely sensitive to the energy around them. If they are a predator, they rely on sensing their prey. If they a prey, they rely heavily on sensing when danger is near. Yes, they all have a more keen set of senses than humans, but how does that gazelle just “know” when that lion gets close, even when down wind? Can you feel your own energy field?

Here Are Two Experiments

1. Close your eyes and place your hands out in front of you palms facing. Keep them shoulder width apart, then slowly, with your eyes closed, bring them together. Notice when you feel like something is in between them, like you are holding a bubble of air. That is your energy field.

2. Stand in the middle of a room. Have a friend walk at you very fast, as if they are not going to stop and will run into you. When do you start to feel uncomfortable? Notice slight changes in your stance, breathing, muscles tensing, etc. So now think about this with the animals in your own life.

For example, cats. Do they respect your boundary? I know mine takes every opportunity to sit on my newspaper, scratch her face on my book, or place her cold wet nose on my face in the morning when she wants we to get up and feed her. It does not matter if I push her nose away, or pick her up and set her beside me as opposed to on top of my newspaper, she keeps right on at it. WHY? She is not getting a clear sense from me what my boundary is. I am not speaking her language. So next time your cat graciously displays her hind end a little close to your face for comfort, hiss at her. That’s right, hiss at her. Does she respond? If not, hiss louder and clap. See what happens. I promise she won’t get mad at you, or take it personally. Those are human emotions. Think about cats with each other- they hiss at each other quite often, then you find them cleaning each other a few minutes later.

This is interesting, but what I am supposed to do with this information?

Pay attention to it. Listen to what they are saying. It will improve your relationship with your beloved friend.

•If your dog puts his ears back and lowers his head every time you go pet the top of his head, think about what he is saying. “I don’t want you to touch my head, it makes me uncomfortable.” Try petting his shoulder or chest instead.
•If your horse turns and heads the other direction when you walk up to him in the field, try coming at him from a different angle, or zig-zag up to him. Stop the moment he puts his ears partly back or turns his head away from you. Stand for a moment and wait for him to look at you again. Then take another step forward.
•Need to give your cat a bath? Okay, you got me on this one. Let me know if you figure it out… (as a side note, my cat literally walked across my keyboard as I typed this one!)
•Does your bird sink to the back of her cage every time you go to refill the water? Try just sitting near the cage without “intruding” on her space for awhile. Does she pay attention to you? Come to the front of the cage again? How do I know what they are saying?

There are some great books out there, I have some listed at the bottom of this page. If you get the basics down, you can truly improve your understanding of what your pet is trying to tell you. I am not claiming to be an animal trainer, the point is to get you to have an understanding of basic communication with your friends so you can have a better relationship.

My suggestion is to spend time watching them with their own kind. Go sit in the pasture with your horse and his herd and just watch. It is quite fascinating. Take your dog to the dog park and just watch as she interacts with the other dogs.  Note: They will rarely touch each other on the top of the head. If you don’t have multiple animals, go to a doggy daycare, pet shelter, or reputable pet store. (Yes, I realize the risk of coming home with a new friend is high, but please be careful if you go to a pet store! Make sure they don’t support puppy/kitty mills!) Watch animal planet.

Often times, different animals are saying a similar thing, in their own way- Please respect my boundary.  The most common offense humans make is coming up to an animal too fast- we walk straight up to them, hands aiming right at their face, we are loud, we clang their dishes around, etc. Animals approach each other in that fashion if they are telling the other “move, get out of my way, back off, get away from my baby, etc.”

Give it a Try!

I hope you find this information helpful. I am on this journey too, and have a lot to learn (especially with cats!). Animals are forever teaching us things, and if we listen, we are rewarded by their wisdom. I started out wanting to understand more about the energy fields around animals when I realized how sensitive horses are, and I took a workshop that focused on this. Animals are straight talkers. They say what they mean, and don’t take anything personally. They have an amazing ability to communicate just by reading the energies around them, and I believe if we were more like our four-legged, feathered, scaled, and clawed friends there would be a lot less miscommunication in this world. Enjoy getting to know your animal partners better!

Books I Recommend to Get You Started

Author: Desmond Morris – he has written really good, basic books about cats, dogs, and horses (as well as humans, but that is a whole new topic!). They are called “Cat Watching” “Dog Watching” and “Horse Watching”.

Titles: “The Dog Owner’s Manual: Operating Instructions, Troubleshooting Tips, and Advice on Lifetime Maintenance” and “The Cat Owner’s Manual: Operating Instructions, Troubleshooting Tips, and Advice on Lifetime Maintenance”. Both are funny, instructional, informative and just really fun to read.

Author: Linda Kohanov- “Riding Between the Worlds” This book gives amazing insight into the world of horses. She gives some great stories about their boundaries and what we can learn.

Authors: Cesar Millan – All of Ceasar’s books are great, but I would start with “Be the Pack Leader”.

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