Primary to the safety of a dog/horse is the instinct to follow the leader of their pack/herd. Nature takes care of the group by ensuring that 98% of the members are born with a follower personality. This means if we act like a leader our pet is born ready to follow our instruction.
The language of our pets is nonverbal - a language of postures, gestures, and actions, given through smell, sight, and sound. If we use the actions of a leader we create a behavioral change. Leaders, of a herd or a pack, use tactics of control: of speed, direction, location, and of access to resources such as food, water, and companions.
Using the behaviors of a leader we both let our pets know what behavior we want and that we are to be followed. Once established as their leader, they are happy to follow our instructions.
Consistency, also known as trustworthiness, is a primary factor in maintaining leadership.
The rewards you receive as an established leader are peace among the inhabitants of your home (or stable yard), and a loving bond with your pet.
Evolution has created in our pets a pre-designed expectation of a stable social unit to live in. and they follow simple strict methods in which order is created and maintained. You may have seen those quick, clear signals from one animal to another, and then deference to authority and change in position from the follower.
For security of the group, animals are designed to work out issues quickly. A strong leader with clear rules equals comfort and security for your pet, and if you have a pack or herd this also creates calm within the group.
A social unit has an expectation that they will do everything together: eat, drink, play, provide company, and sleep. These activities also create and maintain strong social bonds, and fulfill the need for teamwork. Your participation in bonding traits results in a pet who is happy to be with you; a reward we often call love.
Because an animal in physical pain might be trying to protect what hurts, one of the first things we do in analyzing behaviors is rule out a source of pain.
An animal in physical pain might averse to touch, will withdraw from a hand, or bite it. A respiratory issue can make them feel miserable and look run down. A nervous system issue could cause them to show aggression, be disoriented, or lose control of their bowels. Animals experiencing cardiovascular issues can feel depressed, those with skin issues may be agitated, irritable or restless, and those with a musculo-skeletal issue could lie down a lot and refuse to move. Animals with digestive issues can be lethargic or very cranky, and those who just lost a family member (human or animal) can also be depressed.
If we see any of the above at our session we will discuss addressing the root cause, as the best next step.