Why I'm learning a lot at puppy class - about people!
We have a puppy (see photo above). Yes I know, she's adorable. And although we've owned two dogs before the arrival of this one, we acknowledge that neither were exactly well behaved. So we're going to puppy class with this one and I'm learning a lot about people!
What I see at puppy class is that if you're aiming to motivate a sentient being to learn, grow and develop, to do what they're told at least some of the time and to be able to operate in society in a way which makes them likeable, good to be around and yet retains their own personality, you need to think like a puppy trainer. What I'm saying is that people are likely to respond to positive enforcement for good behaviour (just as puppies do) rather than punishment for bad behaviour (which makes puppies aggressive or just scared and less likely to be well behaved and sociable).
Acknowledging that the people around us - whether at work or in our personal lives - need the sustenance of reward, acknowledgement, gratitude, amazement can so often be seen as a "needy-ness". "They're just doing their job...why do I have to stroke their ego too?" "It's her turn to put the bins out...why do I have to thank her for doing it?" are both things that we've all said/heard said/had said about us. But really, if by giving a small incentive, an acknowledgement of a job done well we can build a stronger bond with the people around us, then why not? Have we really lost our dignity, our "position", or changed the dynamics of our relationship if we give a little encouragement and support? Imagine the potency of expanding that ethos out and actually taking the time to listen to people, hear what they're trying to tell us and behaving like reasonable human beings in response rather than like the effigies of people that we've experienced in these kinds of situations.
My puppy comes when I call her - which I think is fairly remarkable in such a very young dog with a relatively tiny brain. (Clearly she's not only beautiful but also super-intelligent!) That warrants a dog treat and an enthusiastic response from me. Really. If I shout at her, she's hardly likely to want to come to me. And if she comes when I call and I ignore her good behaviour entirely, she's just not going to see the benefit of doing as she's asked to do; she'll just start ignoring me in return. I really would never expect any human being to come to me when called - but you hopefully see the point here and how acknowledgement and reward pay dividends out of all proportion to the trouble it causes to the one who's asking.
Puppy class ethics for us all then. Without the noise, jumping up and stress wee-ing hopefully.