Some of you will remember that we got a new addition to the family in the autumn of last year.
Barney, the apricot coloured labradoodle has been with us now for nine months and I feel that I really need to give you an update on his behaviour now that he has graduated, yes, graduated from puppy school.
Every week, for eight weeks, my wife and I turned up in a cold a draughty village hall for lessons with Lynne (The Dog Lady) (that was the name of her business) for an hour of organised chaos regularly interspersed with weeing, pooing and general bad behaviour, much to the embarrassment of the assorted hounds.
I have to admit I couldn’t see much change in our woofer, except he doesn’t wheeze quite so hard when straining against his collar and he doesn’t jump up quite so much when we come home. Nevertheless, Lynne (The Dog Lady) seemed to see something we didn’t and Barney’s certificate arrived through the post the other day.
We didn’t collect the certificate in person as we missed the last lesson, which, apparently, involved the dogs (and presumably their owners) doing a canine version of the Gay Gordon.
The problem is we’ve seen a bit of a deterioration in Barney’s behaviour over the past few days. He had to make a trip ‘down south’ from Edinburgh to Norwich to stay with my parents for a while and, of course, they let him get away with, well, anything really.
When we brought him back to Edinburgh clearly we had to change his routine again, for the second time in a week and this had a detrimental affect on our woofer.
He became more demanding of our time, misbehaved more and, worse than all that, he chewed the leg off his favourite toy!
All because we stopped re-enforcing the positive behaviours we’d been seeing up to that point… much like happens in the work place. We take people for granted and forget to tell them what a good job they’re doing. Then we wonder why their performance dips when we change things without really explaining, in full, how things will be better afterwards.
Barney may not have learned an awful lot from Lynne (The Dog Lady) but I’ve had a couple of lessons about people development.
See, I knew the dog would be a good investment!