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.
Building Puppy Confidence
Honey is a shy girl. She is easily spooked by things that move unexpectedly.
To get her used to my clackety antique lawn mower, I tossed treats while mowing the lawn.
Apparently it worked. When we mowed the lawn last week, Honey was afraid for only a few moments before joyfully doing zoomies in the yard.
So Honey can take advantage of every opportunity that comes her way, we continually work on building her confidence.
Confidence vs. Competence
I recently attended a talk by a young business owner. His grammar needed some work. And his leaps of logic had me scratching my head.
But the speaker’s audience was rapt.
He was enthusiastic and confident. He had no doubt that he’d succeed in everything he tried. And if something didn’t work out, he’d figure out the problem and keep moving forward.
His business was thriving. And his confidence was moving him forward in amazing ways. Because he had the confidence to try something even if he didn’t have all the answers, he put himself in the place of learning the answers. Which boosted his confidence.
Confidence is not my strong suit. I assume I need to learn one more thing before I can move forward. Or I need to figure out all the answers before setting out.
Sometimes this slow and cautious approach works out. Our sailing instructor was pleased to find that he could shortcut a lot of instruction because we had spent the entire summer working on sailing skills before we arrived at our liveaboard lessons.
But you can’t prepare for everything.
Confidence comes from realizing something didn’t kill you
My husband and I spent an entire summer learning the basics of sailing. Unfortunately, every weekend we dealt with very light winds. We had beautiful sailing weather on days we had to work. But many weekends were spent “bobbing and baking” in the middle of the lake.
Even out on Lake Ontario we faced very calm conditions.
So when the last sailing weekend arrived with forecasts of 30 mph gusts of wind, we knew we had to try it. The head of the sailing center was confident we could handle the conditions. But I was more scared than I ever thought I would be.
Mike was more confident than I was. And he’s the one who was responsible for getting us safely back to shore when the wind became fierce.
In the end, you can’t read about how to respond to high winds on a sail boat. Well, you can, but it won’t do you a bit of good. You have to just get out there and see what happens. And hope you don’t get hit on the head by the boom, fall in the water, and drown.
Honey the confident pup
Earlier in the summer we spent time acclimating Honey to boats and docks. But after a few weeks away from the marina, Honey had lost some of her confidence. Even the allure of goose poop would not convince her to follow me out onto a shaky dock.
Eventually, by showing her the treats in my hand and moving slowly down the dock so she could follow when she was ready, Honey got her confidence up. By the end of the visit, she was holding her head a little higher–perhaps proud of herself for knowing that she walked all the way out onto the end of a scary dock and didn’t die.