Every day, in every way, our attitude greatly affects how each project, idea, communication, or dog training session will turn out. A calm, compassionate, yet gung-ho and positive attitude can achieve amazing results. All the things that go together to form what we would normally call a bad attitude will always achieve very poor or detrimental results. That’s true whether we’re working with people or animals.
There’s an old but very true saying that goes, “Attitude more than aptitude will determine your altitude.”
Having a good attitude is very important when we want to communicate. The way we communicate with people or dogs could be the bottom-line reason things generally go well for us . . . or not.
I know some people who consistently yell and in various ways use bullying tactics in their interactions with their dogs and with other folks. It’s sad to think they don’t enjoy and appreciate their dogs any more than that, and the poor dog can’t really get away from poor treatment. But just like most people have an ability to be helpful and supportive or not, our dogs also can decide that pleasing us is hopeless so why even try.
Most dogs do want to please us, but if we’re often gruff and grouchy, their urge to please will slowly but surely fade away. Can’t blame ’em!
I often have people communicating with me about problems they’re having with their dogs. Sometimes I can offer some help or encouragement, and sometimes I’m stumped. At times after hearing some details about the situation, I feel like the true answer when someone says they’re having trouble with their dog is that actually the poor dog is having problems with the person. Maybe the dog has every right to be sulking or giving minimum effort or appearing to deliberately ignore most wishes or demands or commands that the owner in his unfeeling, inconsistent, and blustery way orders.
Using a calm voice and a steady, consistent demeanor will help our dogs connect with us on a much deeper level. That deeper level brings much more joy to their life and ours. It’s a pleasure for both of us when we get together for fun, work, or just relaxing.
We need to let our dogs and the folks we interact with know when we are pleased. With our dogs, we need to go ahead and use our happiest voice, even if it sounds like a gushing teen-aged girl, when we’re letting our dogs know how thrilled we are with something they just did or learned. Our attitude when we’re pleased should come charging through and should clearly communicate the connection and joy we feel.
Of course, there are times when our dogs deliberately disobey or test the limits. We must have a voice and demeanor that will clearly display to our dog that we are very unhappy right now. We are unhappy because of their incorrect attitude and actions. We need to use our mean voice when it is clearly required, but it should get used no more than10 percent as much as our happy voice.
Our unhappy voice or any other type of punishment or attitude adjustment we’re dishing out at the moment should mainly be used when our dogs are deliberately disobeying something they clearly do understand is not allowed.
Every really good dog trainer I’ve ever watched in action makes frequent use of happy voice, calm and steady voice, and occasionally their mean voice. It must be a very effective strategy if all the best trainers establish a compassionate connection with their dogs through a little petting and a lot of voice communication.
Our dogs can read us, and they’re constantly trying to do that. If we project a positive attitude showing our dogs that we have good expectations of them, they will give us their best efforts in that direction.
If we take the time and enjoy the pleasure of forming a connection with our dogs, they will strive to cause us to unleash our happy voice upon them. They don’t ask for much from us. Just fair and friendly treatment, and then they’ll accept and learn from the occasional mean voice and body language we may have to use at times.
We all know that some dogs are more soft and sensitive than others. Part of our correct attitude should always be carefully judging their attitude. We are their pack leader, and they need to know it; but only in the least abusive ways possible. We must always remember we can’t conquer any other situation or creature until we first conquer ourselves. We can never successfully work with people or dogs when we’re angry or frustrated. If we do, our anger will kill their respect. Our anger will cause disconnect instead of connect.
When frustration begins, wisdom ends! When anger and frustration mix, cruelty and abuse are the likely outcome. The likely outcome of abuse is that any living creature we’re working with will become rebellious and not give a hoot about our wishes, goals, or demands.
When attitude is calm and compassionate, yet gung-ho and positive, great and amazing things frequently seem to happen. Lofty goals are accomplished one after another, and joy and cheerfulness will triumph too.
The person who allows his attitude to get bent out of shape when bad things occur, or when things don’t go his way is going to bring heaping helpings of unhappiness upon himself. And he certainly will not achieve excellent results with his dogs, goals, or the folks around him. It pays all of us to frequently think about our attitude and resolve to keep it at its best.