Lessons from the dog - Reward yourself for baby steps

If you’ve ever taken a puppy to puppy obedience class or done any kind of training with your dog, then you know teaching commands takes time. You start slowly and  reward for any action to following the command, no matter how small it is. For example, if you want to teach your dog sit, you would first say the word, then put your hand on their bottom and push it down so they are now sitting. The moment their butt makes contact with the floor, you praise and reward them with a treat. Now, you helped make it happen, but if you do this enough times, your dog will figure out that when he puts his butt on the ground and sits, he gets a treat and will do this all on his own. This may take a few days or even a few weeks. But if you are consistent with your training, your dog will eventually learn to sit.

I’m always learning new things. Whether it’s an exercise for my daily workout, an editing technique for my photography or just implementing a new habit for living a better lifestyle, I’m constantly striving to improve. Sometimes I get frustrated when the result I want is taking too long. Too often I expect that if I read or watch a video and then attempt it myself, I should get the same result as the teacher. But like my dog, it takes time and won’t happen with just one try.

I reward my dog for baby steps they’ve taken to learning a new command. I need to do the same thing with myself. To be grateful for trying something new, for extending myself no matter how successful or not I am. Instead of getting frustrated, I need to happy with what I just learned and tried to make happen. The next time I try, I’ll do better. And repeat. Until I do it as well as the teacher who taught me. We don’t expect our puppies to learn sit in the first try, and I need to remember to be gentle with myself as well. And reward myself for the little steps I make along the way as well. Yet, another reminder how my dogs are such great teachers! 

Kita Penn State