We are often asked how we can “hear” the animals who speak with us. Last year, we wrote an article called “We Can All Hear” that talked about the process of animal communication. We’d like to revisit the topic of how animal communication works for us, and focus in on the first step in the process.If you think about effective communication with another human being, what is the first step in that process? We have to get that person’s attention or focus. We usually do that by addressing them by name verbally or in written form. I recently returned from a business trip to Phoenix, AZ and I was reminded of how we connect with each other when I emerged into the general terminal area and immediately saw several people with signs with a person’s name on it. They were obviously trying to “connect” with someone they didn’t know by sight.The way in which we connect with a person in order to communicate with them is also very important. If I want to engage someone in a conversation to get information from them, I pay attention to HOW I say their name and what my facial expression and body language convey. Going back to my earlier example, I was struck by the variety of facial expressions and body language in the people with the signs at the airport. Some made an effort to look welcoming and alert, while others looked bored and tired. I would be much happier with a driver who looked welcoming and alert, wouldn’t you?When we attempt to connect with someone in writing – for example, in email, we can’t use facial expression or body language to help motivate the person to connect with us. The words we choose are important, as well as the font and font color. We have even invented the “smiley faces” so often seen in emails as a way of expressing emotion when we connect via email.When we connect with animals, we must follow very similar steps. Our body language and facial expression, as well as our voice tone, become extremely important. One must also be very conscious of the species you are trying to connect with. For example, when trying to connect with a horse, I want the horse to turn its head and look at me before I approach to really connect and talk with them. When I want to connect with a dog I have not met before, I also want them to turn their head and look at me, but I don’t seek direct eye contact. I allow the dog to look at me in the eyes when s/he is comfortable. The horse is a prey animal and I want to be sure they see me clearly and see by my facial expression, body language, and eye contact that I am safe. The dog is a predator, and direct eye contact from a stranger is aggressive behavior. If I am inviting the dog to talk with me, I want to appear confident, but not aggressive. If the dog or cat is an animal you live with, you’ll notice that they normally will actively seek direct eye contact with you; this is an indication that they are comfortable with you and wish to connect. It is always a good idea to make sure a horse connects with you prior to coming into their immediate vicinity for safety reasons, even if they know you well. A horse that is startled can spook and either run or kick, depending on the situation.Connection is the key to initiating effective communication with another human or non‐human being. In order to connect effectively you need to know a little bit about whom you are connecting with, and approach them in a manner that is comfortable for them. When you establish a connection with an animal, you have created a “chord” from their heart center to yours. This chord is the highway upon which the telepathic communication occurs. I’d like to suggest that you practice connecting with animals that live with you, and see if you notice a difference in how they respond once the two of you are connected. If you are working with training your dog, try connecting with them first. You may notice that they are more responsive and attentive during the training session. Reconnect if they lose focus during the lesson. If you live with a reptile such as an iguana, they are very capable at connecting with humans. Our iguana Kazel knows her name, and will look at us and interact with us when we connect with her. You can even try this with non‐domestic animals. I connected with a squirrel this morning that was eating the suet we put out for the birds. I connected so I could show him the picture of all the peanuts we had put out for him to eat!

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