HK: Why do pets need counseling? RMT: Like humans, pets also get scared or upset for different reasons. What I do is to train them to calm down and get them out of their troubled minds. Pets could be depressed after sickness, due to a communication breakdown with ‘parents,’[owners] or even because they’re lovesick. HK: Lovesick? You’ve counseled a heartbroken animal? RMT: Yes. There was this dog whose mate had died. It was really depressed, as it had spent most of its time with its sweetheart instead of its ‘parents’. So I helped out by using some training methods to improve its relationships with its ‘mummy’ and ‘daddy’. Pet counseling is, quite often, about helping pets to get along better with their parents. In this case, it worked but sometimes we may even have to use drugs like Prozac to treat pet depression. Other times it turns out that in trying to improve pet/parent relationships, I end up getting along much better with the pets than their parents do. One of the ‘mums’ was quite upset recently when her dog came to me instead of her when she said, “Come to mummy!” But after more training, the dog finally learnt who his real ‘mummy’ was. HK: How can we tell if our pets are feeling weird? How do we ‘talk’ to them? RMT: You can try and read their lips to see what kind of mood they are in. When they pout like a fish, it is definitely not a good sign. It means they are in attack mode. You don’t see tensed lips when they are happy and relaxed. Most of the time, if a pet is psychologically unwell, it will stay really quiet. You can always tell from their eyes and mouths. It’s not really about verbal communication, though some of the dogs might respond to human barking. Above all, eye contact is most important when communicating with and training the pets. They do understand body language; they are like us in that way. They are also more willing to talk to us when they have "salary." HK: What do you mean "salary"? Are we supposed to payroll our pets? RMT: Human beings always work harder if they have the promise of higher pay. Pets are just like us in this respect. So you can train them by giving them ‘salary’, like food, toys, or plenty of attention, according to what the problem is. HK: What do I do next time if I come face-to-face with an unknown, fierce-looking creature? RMT: I’ve had experience counseling and training all kinds of animals. I’ve worked with dolphins, wild boars and even chickens. Many animals are extremely sensitive to eye contact. Staring straight at them is the worst thing to do because this generally sends them the signal that you are challenging them. It also isn't wise to bend over and reach for the animal because it terrifies them, and when they freak out, they bite. The real key to reaching any animal’s heart is finding the right food to bribe them with. All animals, including humans, love food because we just can’t live without it. So the rules are to: stand straight or keep a neutral posture (never bend over to reach animals because to them, it’s generally a very challenging posture), avoid approaching them or staring at them, and above all, give them food!