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What I have learned from training my chocolate labrador retriever

His name is Buddy, instead of training Buddy, he has taught me something I have learn from him and apply to my life.

I picked up Buddy when he was a 6 months old puppy at a pet shop called pick a pet in Singapore, he was imported from Australia at 2 months old and I fell in love with this little puppy immediately during the first visit.

He is indeed a smart boy and very easy to train, from potty training to some simple tricks like sit, lie down, wait, come, retrieve and catch. He almost learned every single trick within one session.

Appreciate to Dog whisperer Cesar Millan’s book and videos online, I have learned that teaching your dog tricks is like teaching your kid to perform playing instruments or draw like artist, it is good to do so but more importantly, you need to teach your kid integrity and be good.

I use Cesar’s method to teach Buddy’s characteristic things like behave well, respect people and dogs, being calm when needed and be a great follower to the pack leader which is me or any human being at my home.

Long story short, I think I have accomplished to a satisfactory level and amazingly, Buddy has taught me something throughout the training that can be useful to my life.

1. A true leader is a calm and assertive one.

In dogs world, they follow the leaders. It is their intuitive mother nature to do so. And they recognise their leaders by identifying who is the most calm and assertive one regardless what the circumstances are.

In fact, most of the animals follow their leaders by their calmness. Unfortunately, we human being is one of the rare species in this planet who follows leaders who are not clam and assertive.

Have you ever felt this way before? One early morning, you boss ask you to meet him at his office room. The moment you step in you can feel things are not right immediately. You can tell he looks like he is a deadman and the end of world is coming. That’s right, you can feel his energy.

Buddy feels my energy whenever I’m with him. When I’m in a good mood, he knows how to take advantage of that by finding his way to play with me. But when I’m in a very bad mood, he stays far away from me and he stops following me everywhere I go. He doesn’t treat me as a leader when I lost my calmness, or when I’m fear of anything.

We do see our human leaders lost control of temper. We thought being angry is a way of showing power, so our followers will follow and obey. It may applies in some human’s world, but dogs’ world, it is the opposite.

I once was very upset with Buddy because he destroyed my Beats EarPods, I wanted to teach him a lesson by showing anger to him, I thought he would admit his fault and stop destroying my stuff anymore, but I realised the more I became angry, the more he disrespected me. It simply doesn’t work. Then I tried to stay calm by acting it, he sensed my energy immediately, then he followed and suddenly came into submissive state. It works!

I think he taught me a lesson, in life, being angry only shows you are the weak one, not the powerful one.

Imagine there is a sudden accident happens on the road, only people who stay calm would know what to do with this bad situation, the rest of us will simply follow.

2. Stop living in the mistakes.

I learned that dogs do not have long term memory system in their brain structure through potty training. That means my dog will not remember what he did wrong 5 even 5 mins ago. It is no point to keep scolding him for the mistake he made last night at all. Interesting?

If my dog only lives in the moment literally, or only have 5 seconds of short term memory, what I could only do is correct him on the spot when he does something wrong. No scolding but just correction.

He teaches me a great lesson in life:

No point living in guilt or feel bad for your past. The best way of learning from your mistakes is, do whatever is correct, move on and never look back.

3. Leverage the power of release and reinforcement.

I think this is the most helpful lesson I have learned from my dog.

If you watch Cesar Millan’s show, you probably will notice one thing, when comes to dealing with a stubborn dog, what Cesar good at is not pulling the leash, but to release it.

Many people pay too much attention on the pulling part, if the dog doesn’t listen or follow, we tend to think the problem falls on pulling part, so we pull more but it usually don’t work.

Here is the scenario:

One day Buddy was on leash and he refused to follow me during a walk, he was attracted by the smell of the grass and the more I pulled the leash, the more he resisted.

Then I changed my method, I started by pulling him out with very little effort, then add more strength until he moves, the strength I applied was increased by bit very consistently, until a certain stage his body started making the first shifting – I released the pulling immediately.

Buddy’s first reaction was shocked. It caught him surprise that instead of keep pulling , I chose to release when he was about to give in.

After the shock, Buddy restarted resisting against me, so I repeat the method again, this time he gave in even more quickly and smoothly! I released the leash again immediately after that as his reward of giving in.

I didn’t have to even try the third time for this pulling exercise as Buddy managed to get it quickly. He wagged his tail, stopped pulling and started following me happily.

I was very indeed very happy. And I thought it could be also possible to apply this method to our life especially during communications.

Then I tried apply the “release” method to my work and surprisingly, it worked very well!

That day I was having a serious discussion with one of my co-workers, we were auguring on one business incident and there was no conclusion.

I decided to add more pressure on him until he made a technical mistake during the conversation, instead of taking advantage of it and keep pressuring him, I “released” the conversation by giving him a sincere apology for my aggressive approach. I told him I will cover his mistake and we can work together again.

Just like what Buddy did, he was surprisingly shocked, then decided to work with me by giving me the way I wanted to.

It may sounds creepy and uncomfortable, but the fact is, what worked on handling Buddy worked on dealing with people in my life too!

Sometimes the biggest mistake we make in life is we always want to win. The fact is, we don’t really have to win every battle in order to win the war.

Here is the logic, sometimes for some reason, we have to put negative impact on others in order to get positive outcome. The key is, we need to change our impact to a positive one right after we receive the good outcome. Our switch becomes to a very powerful reinforcement that our partner will get it immediately.

The girl in the picture above is my wife, she’s happy with the method I shared with her and now she can happily walk with Buddy.

If you enjoy my article, oh, I should say, after being mentally annoyed by my poor English writing skills, if you still can enjoy my article, please recommend the article by pressing the little heart shape at the bottom left. Thank you very much and enjoy the rest of your day!

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