“CRADLING” THERAPY& TRAINING FOR PUPS AND KITTENS
By Dr. Michael W. Fox
Simply cradling a puppy or kitten in one’s arms is part of the process of animal socialization that is as gentle as it is profound. Pups and kittens soon learn to accept being picked up and gently held in one’s arms without struggling, and enjoy the intimacy and security of close physical contact.
Submitting to and accepting such handling is integral to effective and proper socialization or bonding with the human care giver. It greatly facilitates subsequent training and communication. If and when the animal struggles while being cradled, the gentle embrace becomes firm resistance that immediately softens and yields as soon as the animal ceases to struggle, begins to relax, to accept cradling restraint, and starts to trust.
This gentle psycho-physical ‘judo’ can help in the behavior modification of adult,hyperactive, and poorly socialized companion animals, often with a history of being over- indulged and having no sense of boundaries. They have limited self-control that Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov called internal inhibition. Cradling conditions the animal to accept restraint, develop internal inhibition or self-restraint; and above all, helps the animal develop the kind of trust that is the keystone for a strong and sustaining human-animal bond.