Lessons learned from a dog never have to go away even when you don’t have one. During this time of sheltering in place and staying home, my time around dogs is socially distant. This has me reflecting on how dogs are still able to positively influence me from six feet away. I’ve been impressed by their work. I’ve also been thinking back to my big adopted dog from the San Francisco SPCA.
Best advice ever: Set your dog up for success!
One of the best pieces of advice the SPCA gave us was the notion that to help our new family member and dog flourish, we should try to set her up for success. This perspective struck me as both simple and brilliant, easy to remember, and you can apply it to everything. Each time I engaged with her, whether taking her for a walk or asking her to watch the house while I went out on an errand, I applied this philosophy.
Whenever my dog did something I didn’t like, rather than blame her first, instead I looked at myself and first thought of how I contributed to the undesirable situation...like the time she pulled a Thanksgiving turkey off of the counter and ate some of it. She wasn’t bad, we were the ones who didn’t appreciate her size and agility, the tempting aroma, or her surprising stealth. Instead of being mad at her, I applauded her and blamed myself. I had not set her up for success.
Fast forward to today, and I still think about this lesson when I encounter dogs on my walks. I love seeing attentive dog people nurturing their dog. It makes me smile when I catch a person quickly rewarding their dog for sitting at a stoplight or staying close by their side. Once I heard a woman praise her dog loudly for pooping like a champ apparently exactly where she wanted them to!
These days with so much turmoil around, it’s reassuring to see these sweet moments. Whether these people were given the same advice as us or they already knew, the positive influence from the quality of their relationship is evident to this passerby.
Have you learned a lesson from a dog that has stuck with you?