An important modality to incorporate into any relationship is managing the primary need of the personality of the animal that “shows up that day”. Establishing an effective communication with the being you are relating to helps to minimize stress and establish a partnership of intention. Veterinary exams can be stressful occurrences. Animals have no concept that our intentions for preventative health and maintenance are ultimately for their own benefit.
Like humans, animals can possess varying personality traits. Their innate personality can change in different settings depending on their environment, their spirit, as well as learned behaviors. Traditional Chinese Medicine enthusiasts will see similarities in the characteristics of the Five Elements which are Fire, Earth, Metal, water, and Wood.
Borrowing from the Parelli Natural Horsemanship model of Horsenality™and Humanality™, comes the distinctions of Right Brain (sensitive, timid, fright/flight, emotional, reactive, looking for leadership) and Left Brain (confident, dominant, brave, looking to challenge your leadership). Further distinctions within these categories are Extrovert (active, energetic, needs to move their feet before they can think) and Introvert (inactive, lower energy, needs to think before they can move their feet). This extrapolation to other species I have termed AnEmotionality™.
The animals tendency towards being Right or Left brain, Introvert or Extrovert, affects the way they learn, and their abilities to adapt to their environment. What the Individual needs to motivate them to learn or engage depends on the personality they are accessing at that time. Each personality or AnEmotinality™ has a distinct primary need or emotional currency to truly reach them. For Example:
Right Brain Extrovert (RBE): Feels that the sky is falling! Imminent danger from all sides! Get the heck out of Dodge NOW!!! Needs Focus. Primary need is SAFETY and DIRECTION. (not treat motivated until safety is managed)
Right Brain Introvert (RBI): Feels overwhelmed, overstimulated, needs you to slow down, be gentle, approach and retreat, stop pushing. Primary need is SAFETY and COMFORT. (not treat motivated)
Left Brain Extrovert (LBE): Confident, playful, pushy, mouthy, breaks the rules, life is a game. Primary need is PLAY! (very treat motivated)
Left Brain Introvert (LBI): Confident, stand-offish, stubborn, what’s in it for me? Please say it’s food! Primary need is INCENTIVE (usually treat motivated)
Implementing these concepts preserves the dignity of the animal and improves their compliance to our requested diagnostic and treatment plans. I am a stand for improved communication which can aid in behavioral consultations. Understanding these concepts empowers owners to more effectively manage their individual companions, as well as group dynamics.