How Dog Training Can Teach You About Personal Growth

Memphis at 2 years old, Dogue de Bordeaux Strawberieve

Your life is a lot more complicated than your dog’s. He probably spends most of his time sleeping, eating, and chewing on a squeaky toy. You have to go to work, put your kids through college, and save for retirement.

Yet, when it comes to training, some of the principles that work for your dog can help you too. See what you can learn from basic obedience classes when it comes to your personal growth and development.

Training Strategies That Work for You and Your Dog

Some fundamentals apply to any learning project, whether you’re trying to walk your dog on a lead or speak Korean. Consider these tips for mastering new skills.

  1. Clarify your goals. Identify the behaviour that you want to focus on. It’s usually more effective to think in terms of forming a new habit rather than breaking an old pattern.
  2. Practice regularly. For any learning to take hold, it’s important to repeat the steps over and over. Make your new activities part of your daily life.
  3. Pace yourself. Start with your top priorities like running each day or studying for your CPA exam. Postpone other projects that could drain your time and energy. Start out small, and gradually increase the time and intensity of your efforts.
  4. Expect off days. Whatever you’re working on, prepare yourself for ups and downs. Some days you’ll feel sharper than others.
  5. Be consistent. You’ll reinforce new habits quicker if you try to follow a regular routine. Do yoga at the same time each morning or devote one corner of your bedroom to a meditation space.
  6. Offer rewards. Boost your motivation by giving yourself something to look forward to. Maybe you love bacon-flavored crackers as much as your dog does or maybe you’d prefer a night out at the movies.
  7. Consider consequences. Choose actions that deliver the results you dream about. An afternoon spent on gardening or volunteering in your community will probably be more gratifying than watching television.
  8. Create positive associations. You’ve probably heard about giving a dog a treat or toy to relieve separation anxiety. While you probably don’t panic when your spouse goes to work, you can use a similar strategy with your own stressors. Listen to opera while you iron or wear cashmere socks on job interviews.
  9. Leverage your strengths. Just like greyhounds run and huskies pull sleds, you have your own unique gifts. Figure out what you like to do and what you’re good at. Capitalize on your assets in your personal and professional life.
  10. Remain cheerful. When you run into a challenge, smile and think positive. A happy attitude encourages learning.

Other Essential Tips for Growth

On the other hand, you have a lot more options than your dog. Take advantage of your human abilities.

  1. Plan ahead. Your dog excels at living in the moment, but has a harder time making the connection between chewing your shoes and being corrected hours later when you arrive home from work. On the other hand, you can think long-term and care for your future self.
  2. Continue learning. There’s some controversy about whether you can teach an old dog new tricks, but humans can certainly keep advancing in their golden years. Sign up for cooking classes or start playing tennis.
  3. Consult a professional. Your dog doesn’t know that an expert might be able to help him with his chronic barking, but you can reach out for counselling and other services when you feel stuck. Asking for help requires wisdom and strength.

Overall, what works for your dog often works for you too. When you’re trying to form healthier habits, be patient with yourself and reinforce your positive choices.

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