Even if you don't learn to communicate telepathically with your pets, there are some general rules that can make everyone's lives easier. Consider a sampling of animal communicator Cathy Easterbrook's advice:
• Be aware that animals can pick up your thoughts -- although they don't always choose to tune in. (Who would want to hear all the extraneous chatter in the human mind?) And if you want them to know something, tell them verbally. Yes, they do understand what you're saying -- even if you don't hear how they feel about the subject, and even if they don't do what you ask.
• Give each animal in the household a job, or a role to fill. "They need a purpose," Cathy explains. Maybe the animal's job is to be a watchdog, or a child's friend, or a walking partner. "You want to make them feel useful and a part of the family," she says.
• If you want an animal to change its behavior, be firm. Give a reason that the animal should change.
• If your animal friend has just done something particularly annoying, don't get all theatrical about it -- humans' fits can be downright entertaining. Sometimes people find that they can ward off annoying behaviors (like urinating on the rug) simply by giving their animals more attention.
• "Think in a positive mode. 'Don't' doesn't register," she explains. If you say to your dog, "Stay out of Mr. Johnson's yard," your dog gets an image of that forbidden yard. Instead, Cathy advises, tell your animal to stay inside your yard, and visualize the boundaries.
• Understand that, to animals, death isn't necessarily a bad thing. Some suffering animals are relieved by euthanasia. However, animals know if they're being euthanized because the humans simply don't want them anymore, and that feeling of being discarded can be traumatic.
• Never get cats declawed. Cats need their claws so they can stretch their backs out, Cathy explains. Besides, the surgery leaves nasty knots of energy that hurt cats for the rest of their lives, she says.
• Never think that you are "above" certain animals, even though you feed them or you "saved" them. "Saved them from what -- death?" Cathy asks. "If you talk to these animals, [heaven] is a nice place to be."
• Remember that animals show up in certain places at certain times for a reason -- and that maybe they are there to meet you.
• Animal Talk by Penelope Smith, considered the nation's foremost animal communicator.
• Kinship with All Life by J. Allen Boone, a Hollywood writer who studied communication with several animals, starting with Strongheart, a German shepherd who starred in several motion pictures.
• Natural Healing for Dogs and Cats, a medical book by Diane Stein.
• Behaving as if the God in All Life Mattered, by M.S. Wright.
• When Elephants Weep, by Jeffrey Masson.