I speak with dog owners every day about the challenges they have with their dogs.
When speaking with a woman ( we will call her Tammy even though that's not even close to her real name) about her dog's habit of not coming back in the house when in the yard playing, the conversation was no different than almost every other one I have.
Tammy started out the same way most people do, by saying "I have a GREAT relationship with my dog..."
Then they will go on to describe the problem they are having.
Before I get into ANY discussion of what they want the solution to I ask questions. I'm a teacher after all and the name of my business is Socratic Canine, (google the word Socratic if you don't understand the reference). I ask questions that catch nearly every person completely off guard.
I asked Tammy, "That's awesome! Could you take a moment to tell me what makes the relationship so great?"
Nearly every time I ask that they freeze.
How can someone who says something with such profound confidence suddenly become so incredibly unsure when asked to support the statement?
After that pause, Tammy began to stutter slightly as she went on to try and explain.
"Well, we spend tons of time cuddling and loving on each other, and she gets to do everything she wants, and she is always excited when I get home from work," Tammy explained.
Knowing she has been happily married for about 10 years ( I ask a bunch of "non-dog" questions before getting into the dog stuff for this very reason), I asked Tammy another question only this was about her marriage.
"Tammy, what is it about your marriage that makes it so wonderful and fulfilling?"
Interestingly enough, there was NO hesitation in Tammy's response.
"My husband and I have worked from the start to build a relationship of trust, respect, and communication. He always thinks of what's best for me, and I do the same for him," Tammy responded.
Her tone, her speech pattern, the energy she was conveying through our video consultation had dramatically changed when she was answering THAT question. It was obvious, yet to me, not surprising at all.
Of course, this was all part of my strategy to help Tammy realize that the "problem" she was coming to me about was really just a symptom of a bigger problem, her relationship with her dog. However, starting out by simply telling somebody their relationship with their dog is the problem will almost guarantee they refuse to process that information. I continued with the dialog.
After a pause and big smile, I asked Tammy why she responded so differently when asked the question about her marriage. She was unable to answer. I let her off the hook on that question as it was much more of a rhetorical nature to get her thinking, to which the goal was accomplished.
I asked another question.
"Tammy, do you and your husband share any type of affection....at all?" I asked with an almost confused facial expression.
Tammy chuckled as her own face spoke volumes as it expressed how ridiculous my question was.
"Of course we do!" she said.
"But you didn't say anything about affection or even love when you explained why your marriage is great," I said.
Tammy replied again with confidence and began to speak to me as if she was providing ME counseling and coaching in relationships (just what I was hoping she would do).
"KD," she began, " A relationship can be full of affection and be the worst relationship you have ever been in. Trust, respect, and working to understand and appreciate your partner and always improve your communication is what makes for a wonderful relationship. That's the love part, the affection is something that is earned after all that other stuff is established".
I smiled and sat back in silence. A silence that lasted well over 30 seconds which as you know is an eternity in a conversation.
Tammy blinked awkwardly and chuckled as she spoke first.
"What?" she said. "What are you thinking, you're not saying anything!"
"I'm thinking you just realized where the problem is with your dog's behavior," I gently laughed as I responded.
"We didn't even talk about the dog!" Tammy said.
Again, I sat in silence looking into my webcam. This is where the magic happens. This is where the learning happens for my students. I have done my initial job, I got Tammy thinking.
Have I also been able to get YOU thinking?
Tammy and I went on to discuss how to go about getting her and her dog on the right path, a path that started in a place that prior to our call, she had never even looked at.
It was difficult at first even though she was well aware of the reality of how necessary it was. This is true of nearly everyone who makes the difficult yet important decision to begin to do whats best for the dog, and not themselves.
The reality is that nearly every problem people face with controlling their dog's behavior is rooted in the fact that the relationship they built with the dog was never going to result in what they wanted in the dog's behavior. This happens for many reasons. The massive amount of misinformation on the internet combined with the fact many people have no idea what a dog even is nor do they care to find out are two big contributing factors.
What makes your relationship with your dog good?
Who is it good for and why?
Do you have any FUNCTIONAL relationships in your life where the only element that is shared is physical affection?
If you love your dog as much as you say you do, asking yourself these questions and reflecting on your relationship with your dog is exactly what you will do. Your dog NEEDS guidance and it can only take guidance from someone whom it respects.
Never in the history of ever, has the endless giving of affection equaled respect.
I'm just scratching the surface here, but that's all I really wanted to do. It's a blog article, not an intensive and supportive coaching program. That's what The Canine Blueprint is for.
For those who actually want to enjoy life with a dog to the fullest, I can help you. From my free content I post on my Instagram regularly to blogs and my FB group Operation Dog, to the vast expanses of my online coaching program where I work with dog owners all over the world helping them achieve happiness AND control with their dogs, you have options.
To book a call with me and get the help and guidance you need just click HERE. As I hope you can tell, I only work with people who REALLY love their dogs and are dedicated to waking up each day better and more fulfilled than when they went to bed the night before. If that's you then realize your dog is ready, time to get to it!