Positive learning: deepening the bond with your pet
The depth and strength of the bonds we form with pets can be a life-changing experience. The search for these deep bonds is the primary reason we invite them into our lives.
These bonds continue to develop throughout the life we share with our pets and can lead to many wonderful benefits.
Most pet owners are so close to their pet that they consider them as “a member of the family”. And apart from the emotional connection, the presence of a dog has been shown to improve children’s behaviour and help them perform some physical tasks more accurately1.
So, is there a way to further deepen your bond with your pet?
Understanding your pet
The more you understand your pet – their psychology and physiology – the better placed you will be to relate to them and to interact with them in positive ways.
The importance of your pet’s three brains
Firstly, it’s important to understand the make-up of your pet’s brain. Like all mammals (including us), your dog or cat has three parts to their brain: the neo-cortex, the limbic system and the reptilian brain.
The neo-cortex part of a mammal’s brain is responsible for ‘higher-order’ thinking, like problem solving, spatial reasoning and conscious thought.
The limbic system is responsible for things like emotions, motivation, learning and memories.
The reptilian brain (brainstem) is the primitive and instinctive part of a mammal’s brain. It is primarily responsible for survival instincts like the “fight or flight” response.
Our neo-cortex is highly developed. If we are presented with a stressful or scary situation, most of us will still have the ability to analyse the situation and react in a reasoned, thought-out way.
In animals like cats and dogs however, their neo-cortex is much, much smaller. If they are placed in a stressful situation they are most certainly more likely to react directly from their reptilian brain – the “fight or flight” response.