Companionship is easy, leadership is hard
I talk a lot about leadership, and very little about companionship in regards to dog training, or just living with your dog. Here’s why.
Hanging out, doing what feels good, being “buddies”, sharing affection, just enjoying each other – companionship – are all easy. That’s the stuff we see ALL of our clients doing, without coaching or prompting. It’s the stuff that folks enjoy, easily gravitate to, and share with their dogs in abundance. It’s also the stuff that, in the absence of leadership, unhinges many relationships.
Leadership, on the other hand, is the hard stuff. It’s the stuff that isn’t as fun; the stuff that demands you do the uncomfortable or not-easy, in order to create a balanced dog and relationship. It’s where you prioritize your dog’s needs over your own. Where you do what isn’t as fun or enjoyable in order to create balance.
In all my days as a trainer I’ve never had to coach a client, not one, to be more loving, affectionate, easy-going, and permissive. But I have consistently had to coach folks how to shift gears and adjust to being firmer, sharing more rules, more accountability, and less affection and freedom.
Let’s connect this with actual parenting. It’s easy to be your kid’s buddy – to do all the fun stuff – and much harder to be your kid’s parent. The parent is the one who isn’t always popular, and who has to be the heavy when necessary. The one who is actually in charge, who’s creates rules and boundaries – and enforces them – because they make for a happier child/adult in the long run.
So I remind folks about leadership, the hard stuff, because companionship, the easy stuff, is well, easy. And we rarely need reminders to do the easy stuff.