Communication (from Latin “communis“, meaning to share) is the activity of conveying information through the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, visuals, signals, writing, or behavior.
We’ll be adding a dog to our family this summer so I’ve been preparing and part of that preparation entails locating a training program for our puppy. I’m liking the idea of a training program which includes other dogs who are also being trained. I was referred to a place and so this week I spent two days auditing different classes.
One of the handlers took some time with me to answer questions and explain the process. She was very helpful. It was play time at the end of one of the classes…a time when some of the pups were selected to “fellowship” in the center of the room. One of the pups was not having it and kept running over to where my husband and I were sitting. I naturally gave her love each time she came over, at one point comforting her since she was shaking. The head trainer was a bit exasperated and whispered something to one of the handlers, who then brought out a covered gate and plopped it down in front of us, blocking the pup’s access to us, and unfortunately blocking our view of the proceedings. The handler said, “don’t feel bad, it’s not you.” How could I not feel bad? I got the impression that I had done something wrong, but wasn’t sure what. What a missed opportunity to communicate and thus teach a prospective client about protocol.
Now, I’m not too touchy, so I wasn’t at all offended or even bothered by the incident, but I did want to know what, if anything I had done wrong and how I could have avoided that barrier. I got my answer today while watching Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer dude, explain that when you reward a dog while it is in a “state” other than calm or submissive, you are rewarding that behavior, thus giving it the okay to continue in that behavior. What I should have done was ignore the dog’s request for comfort while it was in a fearful state. Makes perfect sense why the trainer was irritated with my response to the runaway pup.
Naturally, this explanation got me to thinking about the value of communication and how leaving a question unanswered, assuming that someone knows better, or responding with nonverbal communication can lead to confusion, hurt feelings and missed opportunities for establishing new relationships or building and maintaining strong ones. Perhaps if we learned to communicate effectively, we would lessen the likelihood of those pesky barriers!!
Being someone all about the “why” of a thing, I can’t get over how the Lord so knows that about me and never misses an opportunity to school me in order to make me better, not bitter!
Who knows, if we do select that puppy training school for our dog this summer, I may be in a position to train the trainer a bit on communicating with humans! Keep calm and submissive and carry on! 🙂