What having a dog taught me about leadership
I have been a dog owner on and off my whole life. We had dogs when I was a kid and I had a couple of dogs that I inherited when I was an adult. However, as an adult I’d never had a puppy, sure we had a puppy when I was little, but I didn’t really have to deal with it, to me it was just a cute furry bundle that I played with. So I really knew when we decided to go down this road that it was going to be a massive challenge, not just for me but for the entire family.
One of the pre-requisites to us getting us a dog was that we would all work as a team to train it. None of us really wanted an unruly dog that would just end up being the worlds biggest pain, so the kids all took it in turns to come to training classes with me each week and when we got home we’d stick our lesson of the week onto the fridge for everyone to follow, which we did religiously.
Sounds all very angelic doesn’t it? – Let me tell you it really wasn’t. We had our fair share of tough days. Anyone who has attempted to train an animal will know that just when you think you’re winning, you’re really not. We had days of writing off the whole afternoon cos the dog just wouldn’t come back after letting her off in the woods. We had days when she decided she was scared of cows, and horses, and bikes, and joggers… (this list went on a bit) we had lots of days of chewing furniture, and quite a few emergency trips to the vets following running into tree branches, jumping over walls, crawling under barbed wire and yes, the day she ate 2 advent calendars!!
So, perfect it really wasn’t, but it is an adventure and one which actually taught me a lot about leadership
1. Praise is an amazing motivator
When training, you praise and reward good behaviour to cement the habit. Guess what, this really does work with people too. We might not always need a real life treat (although don’t get me wrong that is nice too) a “Well done” “That was great” or “Brilliant job” (or something of that nature) works just as well too.
2. Consistency is key
You can’t just attend the training sessions once a week and expect a miracle to happen. It won’t and doesn’t. Life just isn’t that perfect! To get anything you want you have to put the effort in. Consistently. Get yourself a goal, and do it time and time again to create that habit. Want to get fitter? Work out consistently. Want to write a book? Write consistently. Want different results at work? Work out what they are and do the actions consistently.
3. That we all just want to be loved
Only when you’ve had a dog do you know the true meaning of unconditional love. Dogs do this, and they do this well. So much so that you can’t help but reciprocate.
Don’t we all want a bit of TLC at times? We might not want all of our problems solving, or the world on a platter but just a person who will listen, and show that they care. Not that much to ask is it?
4. And finally, when you put in the work, you reap the rewards
4 years on our dog is absolutely the welcome addition to our family that we’d hoped for, which just goes to show that sometimes you just have get your head down, do the work and keep your eyes on the prize, because it’s coming.