Perspective is so important too in being able to see success. On walks, we have one point of view – and our dogs have a different one. It’s important to try and understand things from the dog’s point of view so that we don’t miss the progress being made and the efforts the dog is making.
Our perspective does often make it hard to see progress. That’s normal – we are under a lot of pressure to have our dogs behave well at all times. So if you sometimes struggle to see results in what you are working on with your dog, don’t feel bad. This happens to everybody – and in loads of different situations. Last year I was working on a large I.T. project. During it I attended a day and half of meetings with senior managers from some of the companies involved in the work.
The meeting started off with a presentation from one of the senior managers from the customer company. He started off by saying: "I know it isn't going very well."
That was a statement that just referred to timescale. The project was running a few months behind the preferred date for reasons that were beyond the control of anybody working on it. In fact, the project was going incredibly well. Everybody working on it was doing a fabulous job in what were challenging circumstances for everybody.
Some of the people working on the project were putting in long hours and doing lots of travel, others were like me and were working to decommission an old system – and so put themselves out of a job. Others had the struggle of trying to train a workforce to do things differently.
So, I spoke up and shared my perspective on it. This was a complex project, being done under pressure and it was going well. I know how important it is for people’s self-belief and motivation to see when things are going well so I wanted to enable the managers in the room to see the successes. I was hoping that they would stop going around telling people that it wasn’t going well. I felt that that could only serve to demotivate the teams who were working so hard against a final and looming deadline.
This happens with dogs too. They try so hard to get things right for the people in their lives. Our dogs really do care about us. Sometimes when things go wrong. When we ask more of them than they can do or when they are ill or when they are frightened, we struggle to see that they are trying so hard for us. If we let ourselves be too focused on one aspect of an end goal, it can be frustrating for us and upsetting for our dogs.
Remember to make mini-goals and keep looking for progress toward those to help you and your dog feel loads better.
If you enjoyed this and want to hear more from me, I have a free webinar that you can get access to. It is pre-recorded so you get it straight away.
It's called "A fresh look at reactivity" and I think you'll enjoy it.
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Tracey is the author of Canine aggression: Rehabilitating an aggressive dog with kindess and compassion and founder of Best Dog Learning and Stuff Ltd. She has an honours degree in Canine behaviour and training, is a Tellington TTouch practitioner, and is an ACE Advanced Tutor.