July, 2020

Is the feeling of not being “in control” now showing up in your life with exhaustion, frustration, being all alone and not safe? Too many pivots, shifts, changes, put us into mental and physical overwhelm. We are sharing our overwhelm with our pets. Now our fur folks are displaying what behaviorists / vets are describing as “Displacement Behavior”. Our fur kids are actually in more need of familiarity and schedules than we require!

How is Displacement Behavior showing up in our pets?
The new normal for pet people is receiving “weird” behavior from their pet loves.

Many articles about our Covid 19 journey speak about our pets absorbing our frustrations, fears, anger, and inability to quickly and easily pivot with these fast changes into the “unknown”. Our not knowing safety in most aspects of our daily lives. Our pets are becoming overly clingy or needy, wanting and craving to be by our sides. This is seen in over protective behavior in guarding with aggression both us and our homes, snapping and hissing at anybody or anything “different” that comes into view or hearing. Examples of cats who have been quite silent that are now loudly purring constantly, and rubbing up against both their person and furniture.

From a research article by Michael Waters for Vox.com here are a couple of examples he brings  up: “Displacement behaviors are the tics that pets adopt to cope with new stressors. “In dogs and cats, these may present as mounting, pacing, vocalizing, scratching, or patterned behaviors like spinning,” says Lilly. “Just like we may play with our hair, pace in a circle, or chew our fingernails.”

Think of when dogs shake their fur like they’re trying to dry themselves off, even when they’re totally dry. Overgrooming is also a common displacement behavior, and so is paw lifting or repeated “jumping at objects, grabbing them and shaking.” In birds, displacement behaviors manifest in speaking more or striking crouching postures. Young horses, meanwhile, might gum at an adult horse with their mouths when they’re anxious.

One displacement behavior — yawning — turns up in cats, dogs, reptiles, and birds under duress. Several studies have concluded that humans, too, yawn more often when they’re nervous, although the reason why is a bit opaque. One leading theory is that yawning increases blood circulation, funneling air into the body and cooling the brain ever so slightly.”

Old calm and consistent behavior is now being swept aside by a lot of pets during and now coming out of quarantine! Social animals are now hiding in corners, calm walking dogs are now straining at leashes, friendly pets are now just giving their people cautious stares…doing their own social distancing. One of my client’s cat is now yowling at its empty food bowl after it eats, demanding that more food be given, as if it had not eaten in a week. Nothing “wrong” physically proven by trips to the vet.

Displacement does not mean Replacement.
Our own fears of lack, not having enough, not having clear schedules, breaking our pet’s schedules and routines, and our fear and reality of “being alone” are all huge contributors to our pet’s new weird behavior.

We have been “displaced”, so our animals also feel this, bringing chaos, unreliability, and abandonment fear into their world and souls.

Some of my recent communications with pets have brought out deep fears of abandonment for the animal as its person returns to a new outside of home schedule. A tired and overwhelmed pet parent is greeted by now an anxious overly needy pet companion.

What to do?
Most important thing a pet parent can do as they change their habits from inside to being outside again in the world is to establish a consistent schedule to feed, walk, play and cuddle with their pets. This is NOT the time to experiment with new diets, new “friends” be they fur or non fur (some dogs are guarding aggressively and anxiously due to an increase of walking the dog foot traffic has happened in front of their homes!) beds, or radical routines. Comfort in the old toys, the familiar walks, the soft pets and talks are what a pet needs right now.

Reinforce them that they will not be left behind, given away, or punished. Talk with them, pet them, create calm for them and you.

People need to remain calm, in control, and strongly enforcing boundaries and schedules now as we all pivot and expect our animals to pivot with us!

Just as we are giving other people space to breath, make some mistakes, and be compassionate to all that are attempting to shift now, we must be giving our pets the same. Non judgement, acceptance, and show understanding of their new “not normal” behavior goes a long way in establishing peace now.

Give me a call to find out just “how” you can create safe shifting for you and your pet. There are flower essence solutions that can balance emotional bodies…yours and theirs, and there are simple calming visioning and breathing exercises that can help you both through transitions. I give energetic reads and healing, help with custom flower essence mixtures, have online classes, private coaching / teaching, and communication consultations that will indeed help you see, feel and experience safe shifting. You and your fur folk can and will feel better understood, connected, calmed and loved.

Be well, in gratitude, and aloha,


Paula Brown
The Heart of Conversation
Heartist / Animal Communicator / Author
“Fur Shui. An Introduction to Animal Feng Shui.”

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