A Capable Dog

Blackie and I had our first training session with Mary Chaloner, a professional dog trainer yesterday. And I say professional because she was a stratosphere above any other so-called trainers I’ve met in obedience classes. She nailed me, my dog and our collective issues in about 2 seconds.

Of course, the problem was mostly me — too lenient, too much praise and reward for too little performance. It also helped to have the right tool — she got Blackie into a prong collar. And he responded immediately. After 90 minutes, we had both changed, dramatically. As had our relationship. I learned that most of his crazy-making barking, leaping and running around was triggered by stress — not having a strong leader, and a clear understanding of what was expected of him. In addition, every time we moved on to a new behaviour, Mary asked me what I wanted him to do. Mostly, I just knew what I didn’t want him to do. So again, much of the work required was figuring out my goals — what I wanted, my happily ever after. Once that hard work is done, getting there is relatively easy. Demonstrated by the fact that I just came in from a lovely, completely controlled, heeled walk with both my dogs, followed by an off-leash play session in which they were so attentive that I couldn’t loose them if I tried.

Sound familiar? I’m killing myself laughing on the inside. Because this is what I do for a living. Help people figure out and focus on what they want and where they’re going — before diving into how they’ll get there. And what causes most problems, breakdowns, lack of engagement and performance in organizations? Lack of clear direction; good, consistent communication, and ; strong leadership with confidence in the team and a shared vision. Oh — I also discovered that I need to make the dog take more responsibility for his performance, for good behaviour — to stop compensating for him. (Or as Mary so kindly put it — stop sucking up!)

Goal. Quest. Happily Ever After. Achieved through clear, consistent communication and a common vision. Shared responsibility and reward for success.

Works for Dogs. Enterprise. Government. Parents. Spouses. Works for me.

Originally published at www.denisewithers.com on February 12, 2015.

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