How can a greyhound help you make good choices?
Making successful choices is one of the things that has to be at the heart of any coaching; discovering options, exploring ways forward, making choices. This rings bells for me as it’s a process I go through when helping one of my greyhounds, Archi. He’s dog reactive – that means that he’s fearful around dogs - and his response is often to bark noisily and try and get to them. I’ve spent many months helping him to make better choices and respond differently to these situations.
When we’re trying to change our behaviour, there’s a recognised formula to getting it right; making the choice that keeps you moving towards your goal, not one that is destructive. Of course, having a clear goal is really important to start with, but that’s the subject of another article! The other thing to consider is that a decision now might take you nearer your goal in the future, even though it might be a hard choice to make now. For example, refusing cake now might be hard, but will take you nearer your goal of losing weight.
Going back to Archi… I don’t know why he fears some other dogs, but I see it as my job to help him feel better about them as we come across them every day when we’re walking. How can I help him make better choices about how to behave?
- First of all, make it easy for him. This might mean making sure there’s plenty of space between him and the other dog, so he doesn’t feel hemmed in. He then feels that he can get away if he needs to so he doesn’t have to resort to reacting to them.
- Then, make the alternatives interesting. This usually involves lots of sausages! I do this for two reasons; firstly I can reward him for his good behaviour, but more importantly, I can help him experience good feelings connected to other dogs. This means that future interactions will be connected with good feelings, not the fear so much.
- And, finally, I can make the wrong choice harder. I can usually do this by dodging behind parked cars or going in a different direction. This means Archi is distracted and focusing on me and making the right choice. He can’t see the other dog all the time, so doesn’t feel so threatened.
Sounds good, huh? So, how can this apply to our lives? Let’s stick with the losing weight goal. How can you make good choices around this?
- First of all, make the right choice easy. If you know that by mid-morning you’ll give in to that ‘little something’ with your coffee, either change your habits – have a herbal tea instead or perhaps fill up with a healthy breakfast so you’re not tempted.
- Secondly, make the choice interesting. If your alternative choice to the cake is something that you find unappealing, then you’re more likely to eat cake!
- Finally, make the wrong choice harder. If your cupboards are full of cake, it’s going to be harder to resist. If you have yummy alternatives, they’re going to help you reach your goals and you’ll be less tempted to run to the shops to stock up on the wrong choice.
I hope you can now see how you can make choices more easily. Of course, a good coach will help you smoothly through this easy process too.