We all want to provide a happy life for our animals—after all, they’re special members of our family. A good start is to provide clean water, healthy food, a warm bed, toys and socialization. But are you feeding and nurturing their hearts and spirits? Are you harnessing the joyous power of now?
Even more important than the basics to ensure your animal’s happiness is to develop a relationship based on mutual trust, respect and shared peaceful presence, which is something animals are great at teaching. Watch what your animal is telling you by his behaviors; listen to your heart to help you savor moments when your animal is truly blissful; and meditate with your animal to help you connect more deeply and strengthen your bond with each other. Your animal will respond in amazing, contented ways to your new mindful attitude. In turn, the happier your animal is, the more joy will radiate in your own life!
Read on for the top signs your cat, dog, horse, lizard, bird or bunny truly is happy. Taking time each day to stop, open your heart and share mindful, meditative moments with him will increase these behaviors and ensure a happy animal. I’ve written many sample meditations you can share with your animal to bring peace and contentment.
A happy cat:
- Is playful and curious.
- Lies on his back with tummy exposed, and rests with paws tucked.
- Purrs blissfully.
- Nudges you with the crown of her head or her nose, or rubs her body against your legs.
- Is welcoming when they see you.
- Puts his tail up when saying “hello.”
- Gives happy meows.
- Does “the long blink” when you look at them across the room.
- Kneads biscuits on you when you cuddle them.
- Shows interest in what’s going on around her and the environment.
- Grooms and licks.
- Drools on you.
- Follows you everywhere.
A happy dog:
- Has relaxed ears.
- Wags his tail enthusiastically.
- Stands or sits with a playful or relaxed body posture.
- Gives slurpy kisses.
- Spends most of the day exploring, playing with toys, walking around and doing things.
- Asks for attention.
- Shows enthusiasm for their favorite things: snacks, walks, when you return home, etc.
- Sleeps deeply.
A happy horse:
- Is relaxed with floppy ears.
- Has sparkly eyes.
- Walks with a spring in his step.
- Perks his ears forward in a friendly greeting, as if to say, “Hi, it’s so great to see you today!”
- Holds his head up and looks around.
- Enjoys horse toys and companionship.
IGUANA OR BEARDED DRAGON
A happy lizard:
- Sheds regularly.
- Plays well.
- Eats well and has a full tummy.
- Lives in a clean environment.
- Goes willingly to you (a sign of trust).
- Has space to climb and a large enclosure.
- Likes new sights and smells. Consider taking your iguana for a walk outside on a leash.
- Has some free time to roam your house.
A happy bird:
- Clicks his tongue.
- Grinds his beak deep in the night when sleeping.
- Has happy vocalizations: singing, soft chattering, talking, whistling.
- Purrs, especially when paired with a relaxed body stance and fluffed feathers.
- Preens her feathers (and tries to preen you).
- Perches on a single foot.
- Plays games with you, like “peek-a-boo.”
- Regurgitates her food for you (you’re welcome).
- Wags his tail, much like a dog.
- Is alert and uses her assortment of toys, chews, perches, mirrors (assuming she likes mirrors).
A happy bunny:
- Rolls on her side and relaxes with her eyes closed.
- Lies down with his head flat on the ground (an invitation for pets).
- Grooms herself to stay clean and shiny.
- Shows off with “binkies”—meaning, he runs and jumps and twists mid-air.
If these signs don’t seem as prevalent as they should be in your animal, and you’re seeing negative behaviors instead, it’s probably time to schedule a vet appointment. Here are some general warning signs to watch for, which may be signal illness or depression:
- Over-grooming: Chewing skin, pulling fur, licking paws too much, chewing on paws
- Changes in eating habits: overeating or eating less
- Reluctant to play or go for walks; general inactivity
- Negative changes in potty routines
- A bearded dragon who has turned his beard black
- A horse that holds his head down, kicks the stall or paws the floor, shows signs of aggression or flashes his teeth when you approach
- Destructive dogs that chew on your couch or shoes instead of their toys
- A panting bird or a bird that sits on the bottom of the cage
Although the above warning signs may on the surface seem obvious, sometimes in our busy lives, although we may be taking care of the basics with our animals, we often forget to stop and check in with the deeper levels of feelings our animals may be having. Sometimes we are just too busy to just be with our animals. Learning to slow down and spend time sharing the present moment with the animals we love can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary—each and every day!
How do your animals respond when you slow down and remember to savor the moment with them?