Coco attended her first puppy obedience class this week. She was very, very excited about her first trip away from the house and about meeting other puppies. She was the newest in her class of four and had a good stab at all the exercises. It was fascinating to see how the trainer could get each and every one of the puppies doing exactly as she wanted but the owners couldn't always. It is so easy, and so tempting, to blame the dog when it is actually myself to blame. If I am not clear, or give mixed messages, or expect the puppy to follow a command which she is not familiar with, I set myself and Coco up for failure, irritiation and even anger. One lady on the class found any and every excuse to explain why her dog would not behave for her, at one time even claiming that her arms were too long! If I tell Coco, "Good girl!" when she is sitting and I want her to wait before she jumps on the sofa or heads through the door, she thinks she has done what I asked her to do, so is it any surprise that she jumps up or heads out? So I am learning to use the command "Wait" and accepting that when I forget I will get the behaviour I don't want.
I am beginning to see the parallels with parenting. As I pick at the children because I feel stressed and overworked, so they start to pick at each other; as I shout "Stop yelling!" the noise levels increase and the loving communication decreases. With both puppy and children, I need to look at what my attitude and behaviour is asking of them, not just my words.