Gretchen Rubin wrote in The Happiness Project about the year she spent “test-driving the wisdom of the ages, the current scientific studies, and the lessons from popular culture about how to be happy.” The Puppiness Project is my attempt to learn the same from Honey, my Golden Retriever, and Chérie, our visiting Foster Pup.
Dog Treats that Motivate
Honey will sit for a nasty, dry dog treat. She’ll lie down or spin. But if I want her to leave a squirrel to come to me or jump onto a wobble board, I need something more motivating.
There’s a hierarchy of rewards in our household.
- Level 1 – a ball, toy, butt scratches or a dried up dog cookie for behaviors she’s inclined to do anyway
- Level 2 – cut up hot dog for something she needs to learn but doesn’t find too threatening
- Level 3 – liverwurst for things that are much more challenging
If I’m asking for too much too soon, or if my rewards aren’t rewarding enough, Honey lets me know. My eager-to-please, compliant pup just says no. Well, she doesn’t “say it.” But I definitely know that’s what she means.
Humans and canines are quite similar. Neither of us will do things we don’t find rewarding.
Sometimes the only reward is reducing pain. But generally, random positive reinforcement is the way to gets humans and canines to do things. It’s why slot machines are so successful at sucking people’s money away.
I’ve recently changed my work so that I am an independent consultant instead of a regular employee. That means that extrovert Pamela needs to motivate herself to get her work done instead of relying on the social pressures that work so well for her.
It’s very hard for me to work alone.
I need to find better rewards.
True Rewards, Not Shadow Comforts
You know what I mean. When you say to yourself, “I’m so beat and stressed out. I’m just going to watch a little television.” Or, “I’ll stop for fast food on the way home. I deserve the break.” But the shadow comfort is somehow unsatisfying. And it’s not very motivating.
I’ve been spending far too much time with shadow comforts lately.
No wonder I’m feeling a bit unmotivated. My rewards aren’t nearly rewarding enough.
If surfing online or watching Hulu is a tier 1 reward, I need to figure out my tier 3 rewards. What is my equivalent of liverwurst?
- Spending a couple of hours at the library
- Hanging out at the water’s edge
- Eating really good seafood
- Accomplishing something really creative
The Dog Leads the Way
To do something hard, Honey wants cooked chicken livers. But she also shows excitement at learning something new. When she understands what I’m asking of her, she gets an extra spring in her step.
She also likes mischief and practical jokes. Keep away is one of her favorite games. Honey is a happy girl who finds using her brain to be rewarding.
Working alone is hard for me. I need to own that and figure out better rewards.
Creativity spawns more creativity. Too much time passively enjoying others’ creativity saps my own.
Time to put away the shadow comforts and seek out the liverwurst of life. At least that’s what Honey would tell me to do.
Welcome to Monday Mischief – The pet blog hop that wraps up the weekend! This Blog Hop is brought to you by Alfie’s Blog, Snoopy’s Dog Blog, My Brown Newfies and Luna, A Dog’s Life and you can read more about how to link up here.