I have been inspired a lot by Brene Browns new book this week and the quote below hit me hard.
I’ve spoken of perfectionism before, I think it all gets us at one point or another, and I know it comes up a lot for people when doing the work with their dogs, trying to get the things they are teaching to look a particular way and quite quickly.
It’s taken me YEARS to refine my skills when working hands on with a dog, and even then I still drop treats, trip over leads, fall over, and get my hands in the way of teeth when playing tug with a new dog. It just happens less often and the dance steps between the dog and I smooth out faster than it used to. But I still stumble about a little with a new partner.
So I never expect you guys to get it perfect, in fact I had this very conversation with some of my badass clients last night and I invited them to fuck. Shit. Up. (will safety in mind of course)
Because it’s in our mistakes and our dogs mistakes when we give room for critical thinking, self awareness and reflection that we learn the most.
And I know this all to well because I used to carry that shield with me every where I went, especially when it came to my dog, it’s what stopped us doing a lot of things because what we were going through didn’t look like what everyone else had.
So my defence was if he could behave like the dogs I seen on youtube, the dogs I had seen other trainers own, the dogs I had owned previously in my life (thinking how they hell did I even manage that and why was he so differently) If we could get all the things perfect, perfect sits, drops and stays if he could walk perfectly on lead, and behave himself perfectly we would be fine.
And I was so god dam critical of myself, which ended up putting unnecessary pressure on myself and more importantly him, I wasn’t directly being hard on him, it wasn’t that I had high expectations of him but I did of myself.
When I stripped down my defences of perfectionism I realised what I really wanted was not a perfect dog but a happy dog.
A dog that could be relaxed, not robot like not constantly directed or controlled in how to behave but could feel comfortable in all situations, felt safe enough to lean on me, look for me/towards me for guidance when he felt unsure, to be connected and doing things as a team opposed to one of us doing all the work.
Perfectionism doesn’t put just you in a box of how things should be, it doesn’t put a butt load of pressure on you but your dog as well.
We think perfectionism protects us but really it keeps us from the freedom we are wanting not just for ourselves but our dogs.
I don’t know if there is a cure to this I have been working on putting that shield down for many years and I still discover places where it unconsciously gets raised but self awareness helps AND the bit that we all hate, doing the things that makes us uncomfortable it what helps us drop that shield.
For my clients they need and appreciate that space to be able to drop there shield and know that they will be supported in their mistakes just as much as they will be celebrated in their successes, because they are showing up every day and doing the work.
What we teach our clients is far from easy but to see the happiness it brings there family, I’m sure they will agree with me on this it is certainly worth embracing the uncomfortable, the unknown and getting to put down that twenty-ton shield.