One boy and his dog…

It being lovely weather at the weekend my children, wife, dog and I went for a picnic.

Very nice it was, too. The sun was shining, the air was warm and flies were buzzing dreamily in and out of every orifice they could find.

We were just finishing our picnic when I watched a very funny little cameo between my son and my dog… and it’s all to do with who was training who and who was vying for the ‘top dog’ position at that particular moment.

Adam, my son, who’s 10 years old and consequently gets bored with things like eating sooner than anyone else, wandered off into the woods, looking for some trouble to get into. The dog, Barney, who’s only 10 months old and has been the subject of a couple of previous blogs, decided enough was enough and came to the decision that the little whipper snapper had to be put in his place.

The dog heaved himself up from the shade of a tree and then broke into a sprint to catch up with the errant boy, rounded him up to bring him back into the group.

Very funny, but I decided to read up about the behaviour that was being displayed and, naturally as we were getting back to nature for the day, I had my i-phone with me and Googled what I wanted to find out.

Apparently, Barney’s behaviour is that of the pack leader, who feels a deep sense of duty to keep the rest of the pack safe from harm and, on this occasion, it meant rounding up a wandering pup!


Back in the garden some time later, my son was trying to teach Barney to lie down and roll over. I swear to you all right now, the dog said (if not in words, then in body language) ‘you roll over you want to, pal, but just give me the doggy treat and we’ll call it quits.’

To a certain extent the same is true in groups of people (not the doggy treat bit) and there’s a salient lesson in there for trainers.

I was observing one of our trainers last week. There was a delegate on the course who wasn’t causing trouble, but clearly had the potential to make things difficult. Our trainer decided to make friends with this delegate to get them on her side… sound theory but doomed to failure.

When it came to giving the potentially unruly delegate some feedback to help them improve they just weren’t in the mood to receive it. Our trainer didn’t have the credibility needed to round the person up.

I’m not saying trainers need to be the leader of the pack, but neither can they be part of the group. It just doesn’t work for anyone.

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