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« Signals | Main | Motivation »
Wednesday
Mar142012

Going Slow

I want to share a short story about a friend of mine. This family owns a wonderful dog who, like many other dogs, did not get out as much as he used to in the winter (and certainly not much on concrete). Since the weather turned so wonderfully nice lately, they decided to make up for lost time and one of the family members took the dog with her on a long walk. Afterwards, they noticed bloody spots on their flooring and upon further inspection it was clear that the dog had worn right through his paw pads on both of his back feet. That well-intentioned long walk was too much too quickly for the dog!

Similarly, I have clients occasionally who want quick changes in their dogs in short time periods. Oftentimes, the problem behavior is pullng or jumping up. Expecting the dog to go from puppyish, bad manners to a perfect dog who never makes a mistake in a couple weeks is simply expecting too much. The dog is not a robot- you can't simply reprogram him, just like the poor dog in the example above could not reprogram his feet to make them tougher. I usually find that the root cause for unwanted jumping and pulling, especially if the owner has previously tried (and failed) to correct it is poor impulse control. To build up impulse control is a slow and steady thing. By all means, expect to see results. But don't expect them to be all at once. By all means, take your pooch for a walk. But gradually increase the distance and time of the walk so you dont inadvertently hurt your dog. 

The parallels here were just too much to ignore. I hope it's a good reminder for you, as it is for me!

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