I’ve wondered whether to be silly or serious with animals who have emotional/behavioral issues.  Lately, I’ve been leaning towards silly.

Some of these issues are serious – aggressive actions, separation anxiety and incessant barking are a few examples that come to mind.

Trust me, I’m not minimizing these issues; I’ve experienced them firsthand. I’m just wondering if we can lighten up with silliness when interacting with our beloved companions about these topics.

Why silly?

Silly is a light energy. It’s not mocking nor angry. We show up with a desire to connect, to delight, to disarm our animal’s energy in a gentle, unexpected way.

As we loosen up, we find our inner child – the imaginative one who sees angel wings that turn into dogs playing in the clouds. (Happened on my walk this morning, by the way – just realized it was my pups in spirit saying hello!)

I love this clip from Good Omens where the Demon Crowley uses heartfelt vulnerability and a bit of silliness to get through to his beloved friend, the Angel, Aziraphale. It’s adorable and heartbreaking at the same time.

Aziraphale: “I don’t even like you!  Crowley: “You DOOO!”

I Don’t Even Like You
by u/TheeCombatBaby in goodomens

Silly strategies

Here are some silly strategies I and my clients have used to help our animals release anxiety and shift behaviors.

Bark with them (in the house)

When my dog barks at something outside, I join her. I put an arm around her and look for what it is. Whether I can see what she’s barking at or not, I comment on the fact that she’s so entranced with it. Sometimes I bark at it with her. Then I stop, say, well that was fun, let’s move on. Can I get you a toy or treat now?


My anxious dog Tibor would sometimes growl when I petted him. He had a tough start in life and didn’t trust humans. Just for fun, I would sing some nonsense song in the key of his growl. “You’re my pup dog, I love you so much, it’s just petting, please relax!” And his growl would turn into a quiet whine, “Okay, I got it, Mb. I’m letting go of my anxiety right now.”

What song could you sing that reminds them that all is good, you love them and will always be there for them?

Tell them a fairy “tail” with a happy ending

If they had a hard start in life, tell them a fairy “tail” about how they came to be with you. And give the story a happy ending – life with you and your family! I’ve told animals who’ve been rehomed a lot how they won the animal version of the lottery. They’ll always receive buckets and buckets of love, and there’s even a secret room with an unending supply of food for them.

Dance with or for them

Let them feel the energy of fun coming through you to them. Maybe they’ll decide it’s time to play or look at you with wonder and love.

Tell them, Eat, Drink and Be Merry

When people go on vacation, I routinely tell their animals in my Postcards from Your Pet that they should “Eat, Drink, and Be Merry!”

Their people are having a good time, right? So they don’t have to mope, their people are coming back, all is well. Plus, it would make their people so happy to know they’re enjoying themselves. You can do this too.

Silly is a healing energy

As often as you can, find a genuinely silly, lighthearted way of connecting with your animals. Feel how your energy shifts. You know they feel the difference, you’re open and vulnerable in your love for them.

This energy will lighten up your relationship. At least, it has helped me and my animals.

Can you think of ways you bring silliness and playfulness into your relationship with your animal companions? I’d love to hear about it!