Filling your pet’s emotional bank account (what is it and how to use it)

The Gottman Institute states the following:

Responding to bids for emotional connection builds your pet's Emotional Bank Account and their trust in you.

The Emotional Bank Account in Human Terms

Essentially, when you turn toward your partner’s bids for connection, you are making a deposit in your Emotional Bank Account (EBA). And when you turn away from your partner, you make a withdrawal. Just like a real bank account, a zero balance is trouble, and a negative balance is the real danger zone.

An Emotional Bank Account grows when partners make more deposits than withdrawals. In a six-year follow-up study of newlywed couples, couples who remained married turned toward their partner’s bids for emotional connection 86% of the time in the lab, while those who divorced averaged 33%. The difference between happy and unhappy couples is how they manage their Emotional Bank Account.

When the Emotional Bank Account is in the red, partners tend to question each other’s intentions and feel disconnected, or even lonely.

But when the Emotional Bank Account is in the green, partners tend to give each other the benefit of the doubt during conflict. They keep their relationship in the positive perspective.

Your Pet’s Emotional Bank Account

The same concept holds true for pets. If you want your pet to trust you, to respond positively to your communications and requests, you need to be filling their bank account and, even more importantly, appropriately responding to their bids for emotional connection. What do those connection requests look like? Your pet seeks physical connection – a paw on your leg, their head on your lap, licking you, sitting close to and/or directly in front of you, especially if they “talk” to you; or running between you and the door or a toy, and vocalizations such as barks, whimpers, or whoofs.

Filling Your Pet’s Emotional Account

How do you fill your pets Emotional Bank Account (EBA)?

  • giving treats
  • cuddling
  • walks, etc.

So how do you measure the balance of your Emotional Bank Account?

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