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Do you ever think ‘I’m too tired to train the dog today’, then feel guilty. You’ve had a long, hard day at work or you feel drained after being stuck in traffic or your train’s been delayed and you just want to get home and flop on the sofa and do nothing else? That’s usually when most people will come up with a reason to put off the ‘T’ word.
I know the feeling too, you might think I must spend all my days with my dogs, I wish! But running a business is a full time job and playing with my dogs all day isn’t going to pay the bills.
So there are definitely days when my brain feels like a big ball of cotton wool and I can barely string a full sentence together and I know that I should do something with my pups.
So here’s what I do…. and here’s why
Doing something is better than doing nothing
That may sound a bit blah but if there is one thing that makes you a true leader in your dog’s eyes, it’s consistency.
It’s one quality that all good leaders have, they do what they say they are going to do. If they didn’t you would probably stop believing them after a while, wouldn’t you?
If I really want to veg out when I get home I make myself a deal. 5 minutes spent with each of my dogs, one to one, doing something fun, but I initiate it. So whether it’s a game of Find it, a clicker training game or just practising something we’ve been working on recently, that’s my trade – off for putting my feet up, guilt-free with a glass of wine just a little later after I get home. And I usually find that I’ve enjoyed it because I get to focus on my great dogs and not work!
Making a plan and sticking to it, even if it’s only for 5 minutes a day will get both you and your dog into a good habit. That’s what consistency brings to the table, good habits. So no more excuses. If you have time to wait for the kettle to boil or the bath to fill then you have time to do this one little thing.
So next time you are on your way home and you’ve had a rough day, chuck the word Training out the window, think of that furry face that’s waiting for you at home and smile.
That waggy tail is your therapy, helping you forget the worries of the day and your payment to your furry therapist is some one to one fun every day, even if it’s just for 5 minutes!
Lets change how we look at training and start thinking more like spending quality time together.
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There are a number of personal reasons why many dog owners fail in training or teaching their dog new behaviours. It might be a timing issue, lack of experience or understanding and sometimes, even a lack of patience to persevere through to the desired end result.
But when it comes down to it, if you can’t change some of your own habits or thoughts, how are you going to change your dog’s behaviour?
Are you thinking (be honest!):
- I can’t do this!
- It’s too hard.
- I don’t understand …
Oftentimes, once you leave your dog trainer or coach (who gave you all the correct and positive information to start moving forward towards the new results you want to see), these self-doubting phrases are the first to pop up.
Most likely, you feel overwhelmed with all this new information compounded with a strong feeling of resistance because you are now facing a choice between continuing with the old way of doing things or a fresh, new start that requires a lot more work. So instead of putting your new training into place, you find yourself making excuses as to why you shouldn’t – or won’t – start now. Unfortunately, most people choose the path of least resistance, to put it off, at least for now.
Here’s MY answer to each of those statements above:
1. Yes you can do it! You may be feeling fear of the unknown or perhaps you really don’t fully understand the new process; but Yes You Can do it! Talk with your trainer or coach about what is holding you back and together, recreate the new process into smaller steps (“baby steps”). It’s only resistance that is making you feel like you are taking a step into the unknown.
2. Remember, changing your beliefs or habits about anything in life is difficult and it usually goes hand-in-hand with indecision, fear and resistance. But all good things take time and hard work, especially if you want to break out of the same old rut of unwanted results. Change is not Impossible.
3. Not understanding something is NOT a reason to resist moving forward and changing your life; it’s an excuse. If you don’t understand, ask! You will be surprised at how many people are willing to help you, but unless you ask them for assistance, you will continue to remain in the same place as before, with the same problems and results.
Think about all the changes you’ve made in your life; remember the initial resistance and fear you felt? Starting a new diet; quitting smoking; learning to drive; changing jobs or ending a relationship. All those changes took you totally outside your ‘comfort zone’ simply because you had never done it before. But you went through it and came out on the other side happier, stronger and more confident.
It’s going to be exactly like that when dealing with your dog’s behaviour. You Can Do It!
Sure, it’s going to feel scary, unsure and uncomfortable in the pit of your stomach; but at the same time, it might also feel a little exhilarating, exciting and something to look forward to mastering!
But if you are focusing on the “unknown” and questioning whether you’re making the right decision, is it going to be too hard or maybe you don’t know all the answers, then you are going to feel and empower all those uncomfortable and negative feelings of resistance. Worse yet, you are going to project that insecure and negative energy to your dog which can defeat, deflect and contradict any attempts at new training.But, if you focus on thinking, “this is going to change my life;” “I’m in control of this and I’m learning something new and fun;” you’ll have a much better chance in meeting and overcoming that resistance! Confront it head-on and just do it!
A lot of people talk about Fear, Procrastination, Rationalisation and Resistance; but until you can put those words to how you feel at that moment, they don’t mean much. But it’s those feelings that are encouraging you to second-guess yourself, to stay exactly where you are now and not change anything. As soon as you recognize and put a name to those feelings, you’re back in the driver’s seat with choices and the positive results of making the right choices.
You’re not alone!
Here’s my own personal saga of resistance. I know I have to do my accounts; so I put it off by cleaning my house from top to bottom (which I loathe), answering emails and going on Facebook. Or maybe I need to speak to someone about an uncomfortable situation; so instead, I’ll avoid seeing or speaking to them for the next week! Doing anything else (except for what I’m supposed to be doing) until I actually have nothing else to do but those things because the deadline is now looming and I will feel worse if I didn’t do them at this point.
That’s how resistance works, it doesn’t want us to move forward, improve ourselves or improve our lives; it encourages us to stay in our comfort zone, doing what we always do, until what we’ve been avoiding will actually make us feel worse off than not doing it.
Once you do it, you think, why did I make such a big deal out of that? That wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. And now you’ve taken the step head-on into your resistance; and once you’ve done that thing once or twice, it gets easier and is no longer met with resistance and you’ve developed a new, more successful habit.
As Nike says ‘Just Do it.’
So after you’ve read this today, tell resistance to go take a hike and get back to teaching your dog in the best way you know how; remember, they are looking to you to lead the way.
Congratulations! You are now in charge of your success as your dog’s confident leader!
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