These two dogs are, most of the time, wonderful together. I’d say 95% of the time. That other 5% can be frustrating. Why, because this 5% happens when the small one, Demi, wants to sit on my lap. She is territorial about this space that she thinks is hers.
Meanwhile, the bigger dog, Lucy is currently attending “Puppy Kindergarten” and loving it. As I have attended these classes with Lucy, I’ve been reminded that dog training is just as much about people training as it is the dogs. After class a couple weeks ago I talked to the trainer about the dog fights that have been happening on my lap. She agreed that a home training session might be helpful.
It was! Not because she magically fixed the behavior, but because she was able to coach and teach me ways to deal differently. She also suggested that we train Demi too, saying that learning new things would “be great for her confidence.”
We are now diligently working on rewarding the behavior we want. So Demi gets a treat when she looks at Lucy calmly. She loses her privileged position on my lap when she reacts to Lucy’s presence with snarls, growls, and or snapping. It will take awhile for her to learn new ways of being, but she’s loving her rewards!
This my friends, is much like our own attempts at behavior change. We want to do something new, or stop doing something, but we don’t know how to start. Or we think the change is too difficult. Or it will take too long to see results.
The truth is that with patience and a willingness to work, we too can see results. Having a coach can help too! The dog trainer was able to tell me what I was doing correctly and what I was doing wrong. We all need this kind of help!
I almost forgot about the reward! When training dogs, they respond much better to reward than to punishment. We humans are the same way. So, today, think about a reward that you could give yourself. It could be something small, or something big. But don’t go too big because you want to have some success. Maybe you have a big goal, say, run your first half marathon. You will have a big reward when you cross that finish line. Meanwhile, what little rewards will help you along the way? A reward for getting out for a run…or for a week of runs. Or for doing that strength work that you’ve avoided. Think about what motivates you. And let me know how it goes!