As New Year approaches, we tend to reflect on ourselves and resolve to improve.
The lovely thing about being human is our power of abstract thought. We can consider past events, dissect and rerun situations, and plan how to respond in the future. These abilities aren't unique to Homo sapiens, but the degree to which we are capable is certainly very special. So now we arrive at this particularly reflective time of year, how would you better yourself as a companion human?
Over the years the animals I've lived with have improved me no end. They've taught me to have patience, to observe without butting in, to predict what they're likely to do next and how to manage the environment in such as way that it guides them to "good" choices. These are all very valuable skills whether you're dealing with human people or animal people, young or old, in the family or outside of it. If you follow my social media streams you'll know that at the moment dog training is causing me to improve my time management skills. I'm learning to go to bed on time, sleep better, wake up brighter, plan my day and deliver the day as intended. Again, these skills may seem small and easy, but there are many people who struggle with their routine and are frustrated by the lack of hours in their week or lack of energy in their body to complete tasks. To make changes I have to research how other people have solved these challenges, consider what would work for me, give time to this planning, then take baby-steps every day to develop the habits I chose and to monitor my performance. If you're also struggling in these areas of your life take a look at Brendon Burchard online as I've found his work very helpful. I hope that in another few months my habits in these areas will be firmly set and I know my dog training skills will be much better for it.
Animals have pushed me further than learning these relatively simple skills though. They've motivated me to manage myself emotionally and psychologically, which is no mean feat for anyone. When you're all wrapped up in your own bubble (where else could you possibly be?) the lack of perspective can hinder your ability to get passed yourself. Dogs offer a fresh pair of eyes on you and the world you occupy together. They've made me notice my limitations in temper, impatience and need for social acceptance. But noticing is not enough to create change; change happens when consistent actions are applied over time, and for anyone to make this effort they need to have a big reason why. A meaningful career/life with animals is that reason for me. So if you're honest with yourself how does your dog view you and how does that compare to how you want your dog to view you as your best self? Fun, trusted, comfort and awesome are the words that I want to see written in my dogs' expressions when they look at me.
I hope this post inspires you to think about developing your best-self for the sake of your dog, your training and yourself. Stay tuned for the second part of this post which will outline which top skills I'd recommend you develop to be an even better companion human.
Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a joyful new Year!
Happy training! Lucy x