Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.
- Salvador Dali
Hello, my name is No-No Bad Dog!!!
Brittany Graham Photography
I ran into my hairdresser yesterday. This is my hair looked like.
We all do it. If I see my hairdresser, my hands immediately fly up to my head to check my coif. If I see my doctor, I toss the ice-cream cone I’d been licking. Funny thing is, people do it to me, too.
I saw a few of my clients at the dog park yesterday. Immediately, they put on their game faces, and make sideways glances over to me, and then anxiously back at their dogs. Guess what…you’re not fooling me. I know your dog isn’t perfect. Guess what, neither are mine, and I never want them to be.
Out on a walk, I see you. You’re calmly Piloting your dog, answering your dog’s questions as they arise: (Can I eat that? No. Is that other dog a threat? Nope.) You’re doing fine. Brilliantly well done! Until you see me. OH NO! IT’S THE DOG TRAINER!!!! You get flustered, and embarrassed that your dog is “misbehaving”. Suddenly you’re jerky in your movements. You start talking at your dog, escalating. You’re adding energy that wasn’t there before, and you’re dog is feeding off of it, until you’ve finally got the leash wrapped around you both like cat’s cradle.
I just smile. You think I’m judging you, but I never will. You were doing fine. You were answering your dog’s questions as they arose, and there’s nothing bad in that. That’s the basis of Piloting! It wasn’t until you saw me that you crashed your plane. All because you cared about what I thought when I saw you. Guess what? My thoughts don’t matter. You’re doing fine. Don’t let your concerns about what others think rule your actions!
My Sparta will still occasionally bark at a dog who’s being walked….three streets over. Orion sometimes will steal a tissue out of the garbage. Point is, I know how to manage them. I know how to address the situation when someone tries to take money out of my Piloting piggy bank. It’s up to me to help my dogs live in my human world, so I answer their questions. With Sparta, she’s asking if something a threat. No, it isn’t. Orion is trying to claim something that I’ve already claimed (the garbage can). He’s asking if he can have what’s mine. Uh, no you still can’t. Both answers will entail simple negative body language. Questions answered. We’re done. No punishment necessary. Questions aren’t bad….it’s when answers aren’t given that bad things start to happen.
I don’t ever want my dogs to be perfect. I don’t want your dogs to be perfect, either. So when we’re at the dog park together, and your dog doesn’t come the first (or second) time you call them, I’m not judging you. However, when you stop calling them after the second time, go over and retrieve your dog, I will give a little internal fist pump. Keep calm and answer their questions.