I am a proud mother. My kids are conscious beings who constantly challenge me. They are two teenage boys - its their job to challenge me. I remember when they were little, they were at their most challenging when I would get home from work. That is when they wanted all my attention, and I was usually spent, so unable to provide adequately in that regard. It always surprised me. Then I noted that the animals that I work with are the same. If my energy is low, that is when they will provide me with the biggest challenge. I will be thinking, "just do this, make it easy for me, I am too tired", and they will not respond obligingly, and very often do something completely counter-productive - why?
There may be a very simple explanation, and it boils down to leadership. When our children or animals in our care feel safe, it is because we, their "leaders", are being clear, strong and reliable in their lives. When our leadership falters - they feel insecure. In herds of animals, the leader in the group will be the reliable one on whom the followers can rely to get them out of trouble. If I was the follower, that relied on that leader to look after me, and that leader looks weak, it makes good sense to challenge them. I would need to ensure that my safety is secure. If they fail the challenge, I need to find someone to take their place, or fend for myself. If they pass, my safety is still secured.
It is not fair to anyone - animal or person - to give mixed messages. Clarity provides security. That is what it means when they say - The truth will set you free.