A Dog's Life

I am a lot nicer to my dog than I am to myself. Take, for example, learning a new skill.

My puppy is learning to sleep in the laundry room. He’s graduating from his kennel, which will no longer be a part of mommy’s office decor. Yay! He is also learning three new commands: 1) “go to your room,” 2) “stay in your room, and 3) “come out!” Teaching him this new skill and these commands involve lots of encouragement, patience, and treats.

First, he is asked to go into the laundry room, “Go to your room!” I try to sound as enthusiastic as I do when I say, “Want to go for a walk?” The puppy goes into his room. He gets a treat.

I ask him to sit. He sits. He gets a treat.

I tell him, “Come out!” in my most happy dog training voice. He comes out. He gets a treat.

This goes on and on. Eventually, however, I say “Stay in your room!” and put up the new dog gate. He gets a treat. And lots of praise. “You’re such a good boy!” I enthuse. “What a good dog! What a good stay in your room!” Another treat. And then I leave.

A few minutes later, I return. More praise. I leave. This is repeated a few more times and then I let him out. “That was such a good stay in your room!”

###

This year, I have decided to learn some new working skills. I am learning to walk on the treadmill while typing and without making too many typos. I am learning to work only 40 hours a week (radical!). I am experimenting with Fixed Schedule Productivity and Completion Centric Planning.

When I make a typo and I’m walking, I often say a curse word. I never get treats. I never say, “Good walk! Good write! What a good typist you are!”

When I work longer hours than expected, I call myself terrible names.

When I slack off, I call myself terrible names.

There are no treats. No praise. No encouragement.

###

As I write this, my puppy is sleeping next to the treadmill. He’s such a sweet sociable dog. This is in part due to the fact that he’s always received lots of love and praise. He learned how to be a good dog. I taught him this.

What am I teaching myself when I treat me differently? I say things to myself that I would never say to anyone else, not even my dog, who doesn’t (as far as I know) speak English.

My dog and I both depend on the same person to help them learn new skills. So I am changing my methods with one of us.

“Good girl! Good type! Good write! Here, have a treat.”