“He’s dragging me when I walk because he’s not had much exercise today.”
“She’s not holding her sit stay because the noise outside the window frightens her.”
“He doesn’t come when I call him because he loves to run outside and play and doesn’t want to come in.”
Although the majority of my clients are two parent families, I mostly interact with women. And we women are famous for making excuses. We excuse our kids, our husbands, our parents, and our dogs. Our tender hearts and compassionate natures contribute greatly to why we do this, but it can be very harmful to those we love, especially our dogs.
There is definitely room for grace in most all of nteractions, and the forgiveness that goes along with that. But our dogs don’t understand grace and forgiveness; therefore with them, it is easier to begin learning how to not accept excuses. And if we do this, they benefit greatly. I won’t deny that is it helpful to understand why a dog is behaving a particular way, but that should never excuse the behavior. When I began to practice setting clear expectations with my dogs, with negative consequences when those expectations weren’t met, my relationship with them improved dramatically. I decided that once my dog learned what a command meant, and what the consequence was for not performing the command, that I would begin never giving that command unless I was ready to enforce it no matter what. GAME CHANGER! Not only did my dogs begin to listen better, but our relationship improved drastically. And my dogs became calmer, grounded, and fun to be around. Literally unbelievable results.
I won’t say that I’m perfect and completely consistent. But I am intentional about not making excuses for my dogs. And it has radically changed my dogs’ personalities. And that if I want secure, happy dogs I need to stop making excuses. Yes please! I admit that it’s easier with my dogs, but I am being more intentional with not making excuses for my kids also and it has also created stronger relationships. My kids know what to expect from me as I have learned to enforce behaviors no matter what their excuse. This ripple effect has continued into all my relationships.
When I find myself weakening and beginning to revert back to making excuses I remind myself to hold others, especially my dogs, to the same standards that I hold for myself. I do not make excuses for myself. I hold myself to a very high standard so I can be the best wife, mom, daughter, friend, and dog owner I can be. Why do I expect so much less from those I love? And what am I teaching my kids if I allow them free passes on bad behavior because they were tired, hungry, etc? Worse yet, what am I teaching my dog, who can’t understand grace and forgiveness? Our dogs need us to be leaders, to be black and white, and to be as consistent as we can possibly be. The more excuses you stop making, the less you will have to. Get started today!