But if you don’t set a goal and plan for it, then you’re really setting yourself up for a much higher potential of failure than would be the case if you had a clearly defined vision for what your success looks like. In other words, have a plan and a goal, or you’re going to be following someone else’s plan – your spouse’s, your parents’, your boss’s, and, yes, even your dog’s!
The dog wasn’t aggressive or nervous or any of the normal big problems – she was merely very playful and very assertive in pushing her agenda and her goals. She would bark to initiate play, mouth excessively, charge the owners at the door, and jump on her loving family to create what to her was a very fun wrestling match. While owners of 4 pound chihuahuas and yorkies often let their dogs get away with this type of behavior, these problems can be catastrophic to the owners of a 120 pound dog.
Like many of us naturally do, the focus of her owners was on reacting to the bad behavior and the dog’s plan rather than following through on a plan of their own. How do we correct this behavior? What do we do when she jumps or mouths? How do we react to her when he’s clawing at us with all 120 pounds of force behind her? All of these questions are valid and good questions that we need to have answers to in dog training, but this dog was so playful and rough that even the standard corrections that owners do were just becoming part of her fun and games.
When quick fixes like this don’t work, it’s better to think about the problem from a proactive point of view, instead of the more common and natural reactive mindset.
If your dog is jumping on you excessively when you are getting home, instead of asking the question “how do I stop my dog from jumping on me?” Ask yourself, what do I want my dog to do when I get home and then look at the tools you have at your disposal to set yourself up for success. Maybe this would mean having them in a crate when you leave, then letting them out slowly, and putting a leash on them so you can control the situation easily.
Or if your dog is obnoxious to your guests, instead of merely just correcting the dog’s misbehaviors (or trying to at least), ask what you would like your dog to do when guests are over? Perhaps a well-trained “place” command until the dog is settled and acquainted with the new and exciting guests in your environment.
The point here is that this Berner had all sorts of ideas about how she wanted life to go and she was making the world how she wanted it to be. The owners, on the other hand, were playing her games and they couldn’t figure out how to stop it.
The answer – focus on the clear goal you want to achieve and start playing that game instead of letting your wild, young, puppy control the terms of your life.
And always remember: If you’re not following your plan, you’re just part of someone else’s.