How to hypnotize a shark, and other tales of animal mind control

Animals are faster than us, stronger than us, and now dogs, at least, are gaining the ability to understand speech. Want to keep the human race from being eaten alive? Reassert your dominance with hypnosis.

Both animals and people have been shown to go into trance-like states, in which they are unresponsive to outside influences until they receive a sharp shock. There is a scientific term for a state like this; tonic immobility. Some forms of it are mild and can be snapped out of with the right kind of stimulus. Others are deeper and bring with them an insensibility to pain. All are kind of cool, and while io9 cannot in good conscience show you how to hypnotize people, we can arm you with techniques that can let you mesmerize the animal kingdom.

Re-establishing your place at the head of the food chain is a tough thing to do, and it's probably best to start by staking out territory. Land may not be your best bet as a place to start. Sure, it's the place where you spend the most time, but it's also the place where you let down your guard. You eat, you watch TV, you sleep; you need to be sure of your powers before you take on your home turf. Better start by mastering the high seas. And what better way to proclaim your dominance than by taking out the terror of the ocean; a shark.

Sharks enter tonic immobility when they're flipped over on their backs. They also enter it, to a certain degree, when their noses are massaged. When this happens they become completely unresponsive, and don't wake up for anything. Scientists are already showing sharks who's boss, using this to perform procedures like tagging or simple surgeries. Since they want living proof of their mastery, however, they need to keep water moving past the shark's gills. Most sharks need water moving over their gills in order to breathe, so only flip them quickly or get ready for a dead shark.

Whales are more concerned with food than conservation, and flip sharks over without bothering to keep them moving. Once the shark has drowned, the whales eat them. You too can hypnotize a shark this way, but only if you can muscle it over onto its back without getting bitten in the process. No word on how to hypnotize whales. Work it out when you get down there.

Lobsters, on the other hand, are pretty easy targets. Sure, they don't seem like the kinds of animals that have enough brain function to go into a trance, but it can be done. Invert a lobster so it's head down and tail in the air. Stroke it up and down along its back, and it will curl its tail inward and not move a muscle. One you have shown your ability to tame the mighty shark and the pinch-y lobster, other animals will surely bend to your will.

How to hypnotize a shark, and other tales of animal mind control

Next move on to conquering your own home. You pay the rent! You have the right to mesmerize your pets! If they don't like it, they can get a job. The way to put kittens and puppies (or some adult cats and dogs) into tonic immobility is pretty well known, but well worth mentioning. Pick ‘em up by the scruff of the neck. Or, not necessarily the neck, but the pinch of skin from the neck to the shoulder blades. They will also curl their tails inwards and stop moving. So basically kittens and puppies are like furry, right-side-up lobsters. But, unlike lobsters, I really do care what happens to kittens, so don't do it a lot. Only when they start recognizing 500+ words.

Next it's out to the barnyard. Horses are very valuable, and so need a certain amount of upkeep performed on them. They know their value, and that makes them dangerous. If they don't care for this upkeep, they're strong enough to hurt the people who try to perform it. To prevent that, many people use a twitch. A twitch is a loop of rope or metal, or even someone's hand, that pinches the horse's upper lip. Think of someone pinching the sides of their mouths to make a fish-face, only it's just the top lip. This keeps the horse still and blissed out for at least some minor medical and hygiene procedures. The same thing will work on cows, but the real show-stopper? Is the chicken.

Hooboy. How can't you mesmerize a chicken? One way is to tuck its head under its wing and rock it left to right. You can also lay it down on its side. You can also put it on its back and stroke its sternum. Basically, whatever way you hold a chicken, you're hypnotizing it.

If you don't want to touch poultry, one method is just waving your finger in front of it. You push your finger up close to its beak, without touching it, and then pull your finger straight back away from the beak. The chicken will focus only on your finger.

Lastly, if you want to use a method that leaves both your hands free, push the chicken so that it's lying down on the ground on its stomach. Take a pencil or some chalk, or just draw a line in the dirt in front of it with a stick. Start the line right in front of the chicken's beak and draw it straight out. You may have to go over the line a few times – always in the same direction - but eventually the chicken will focus on the line and get hypnotized.

Let's see a dog do that.

Via Hypnosis Black Secrets, Wise Geek, Qi,, and Shark Defense.