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.
Clicker Training is Fun
Honey gets very excited when the clicker comes out.
I could pretend she has an amazing love of learning. But I think it has more to do with the chicken liver in my treat pouch.
Here’s what a typical training session looks like.
Suppose I want Honey to use a new piece of agility equipment. I stand quietly and wait for her to make any movement toward the object.
What Honey does:
- wonders if I saw her nice sit so she raises her butt off the ground and sits again, with more force
- lies down
- touches my hand with her nose
- spins in a circle
Finally she figures out I’m not looking for one of her usual behaviors so she must try something new. It’s about now that she notices the object and makes a motion toward it that I can click and treat. And we’re off and running.
Honey never walks off in frustration. She is persistent and she keeps trying new things.
The Curse of Smartness
Not all of us have learned the rewards of persistence the way Honey has.
And, if some things come easy, doing other things that are really tough can be a rude awakening. It’s much easier to get an A on an English paper or score highly on grad school entrance exams than it is to get a book published or even to blog every day.
That’s why it’s better to be tenacious than to be smart.
Chicken Soup for the Soul has inspired many people. It won’t knock Fyodor Dostoevsky off the pedestal of world’s greatest writers. But it has spawned a legacy large enough to have its own zip code.
Now that’s persistence.
Character is a Muscle
We all know that if we want our bodies to more, we need to work harder. Running builds leg muscles that support more running. Lifting weights increases our ability to lift more weight.
If we want to strengthen character traits, we also need to build them up over time. We gain courage by facing our fears. We react with compassion when we practice compassion. And we become more persistent when we follow a course without quitting.
When I look back over my life, I see many times when I should have persevered longer. One of my goals is to build my tenacity muscles—to practice being faithful in small things so I can build the strength to pursue bigger things without giving up.
The Rewards of Persistence
In January of this year I became serious about making Honey comfortable riding in our Doggy Ride bicycle cart. Back then, we could barely convince Honey to stick her head in the thing for a treat.
We couldn’t do it on our own. We found a trainer to help us meet our goal. But we’ve worked steadily for the past eight months.
And now Honey can jump in the cart (with the wheels attached and hooked to the bicycle), sit calmly while we move the bike, turn around, lie down, and jump out the back. Our task this week is to practice in other places besides the backyard. And, if all goes well, we hope to take a short and happy ride soon.
We didn’t give up. And Honey didn’t either.
I think I see a bright future of rides in the Magical Mischief Mobile. Or at least a stop for ice cream.
Who has more persistence in your family? You or your dog? What keeps you from giving up?
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.