What if it is true that 80% of your dog’s misbehaviours are really yours?
Does this idea make you feel empowered, afraid or just plain angry with me for saying this could be the case?
Most people want to keep their dog 100% responsible for its actions. We want to see all misbehaviours totally as the dog’s issues. When problems arise we look for a behaviorist or a trainer to fix the dog. This feels normal; we do it everyday.
It is a totally human reaction to problems. We are used to looking for answers and blame outside of ourselves. We lean on specialists for information, and blame our dogs, and the environment, our upbringing etc. for everything that is wrong in our lives.
We feel powerless without realising that we are in fact actively giving our power away by not realising how much influence we actually have. Circumstances do not control us; we are the ones making ourselves victims.
What if only 20% of your dog’s behaviour comes from the dog, and the remaining 80% of your dog’s misbehaviours are really yours?
This is a totally unsubstantiated claim I am making. There is absolutely no scientific proof for this idea, but what if there is a sort of a universal Pareto principal at work in the world. This theory is often called the 80-20 Rule, and it is based on Vilfredo Pareto’s realisation that 20% of the peapods in his garden contained 80% of the peas (see Wikipedia). In business this is often seen as 20% of clients bring in 80% of revenue.
I started to play with this idea in my life, and realised that 80% of things happening in my life are actually reflections of my inner world. This part of my world is open to my influence, while 20% is based on the environment, and outside of my influence.
Ok, so this realisation doesn’t always make it easier for me, it will not make things easier for you either, not until we both get used to it. I still often find it REALLY annoying, but it does give me the power to change things, and that is invaluable.
As an example, one of my dogs is insecure and likes to keep other dogs at bay by barking at them. This insecurity together with her previous success creating space by barking constitutes 20% of the likelihood of her acting this way.
The remaining 80% is up to me. I can choose to calm her down with my energy by: relaxing every muscle in my body, ignoring the dog we are about to meet, showing my dog a mental image of how I want her to behave, and expecting her to follow my wishes. Like magic she mostly does.
On the other hand, I can be absent and make my dog choose for herself how to act. I can get stressed about what other people will think about me, and my barking dog. I can blame the other human for coming too close. All of these will increase the likelihood that my dog will indeed bark.
I am realising new debts of my influence everyday. It is empowering after the initial chock and annoyance.
This is how it opened up to one of my clients, lets call him Mike. Mike was concerned that his dog Scout was bored and having trouble relaxing.
During our work together Mike realised that Scout’s behaviour was at its most disruptive when Mike was just about to do something. Yes, you guessed it, Scout felt Mike’s energy change, and as a good boyscout he was ready for action.
The boredom and lack of relaxation were not Scout’s issues, they were what Mike needed to work on for himself.
You supercharge your life when you enlist your dog as your teacher to show you how 80% of your dog’s misbehaviours are really yours.
Most of us have trouble seeing our part of the problem, after all most of the time it is something very ingrained in us. As a coach I help my clients realise what is going on, and help them resolve the underlying issue, supercharge their lives, and empower themselves.