This is why so many animal communicators recommend starting with a loving thought about the animal. Offer a compliment. Ask about what they love. Send joy and happiness. This helps you both match your vibrations at a higher level and create more open communication.
But you can also take it a step further. Before you even get to the animal, begin with yourself. Throw all that doubt, worry, and insecurity out the window and envision yourself a master communicator who can talk with animals with ease and finesse. When you hold this high vibrational level,, you compel life to rise and match it — to essentially bring you what you believe you already have. In reality, you do already have it and the real trick is believing it.