I’ve previously written an article about keeping yourself encouraged when you’ve got a dog who is high needs or difficult. Today, I want to focus attention on the importance of encouragement for others. Yes, we all want to hear encouragement about us or our own dogs, but let me challenge you to be someone who has a regular practice of encouraging others.
We don’t often really think about intentionally encouraging others. If that’s not your lifestyle, you may not even really think about doing it at all. But I want to “encourage” you to change that! I think all of us need to cultivate a lifestyle of being that positive voice in the world. Critics are all around, and their voices are so loud in our ears every day!
I wonder how many dogs would keep their homes if their owners received regular encouragement every day. I see so many owners who really don’t want to give up their dogs, but they feel so overwhelmed and discouraged by the time I get called. All they hear from family and friends is, “Get rid of that dog!” As a dog trainer, it always frustrates and saddens me that no matter what, in a human world, it seems like the dog is always the loser. When things don’t work out, the dog goes to a new home or a shelter or rescue. They have no voice and they get no vote.
I think things could really improve for dogs in the world if friends, family and neighbors made conscious decisions to encourage rather than criticize! I work with many really difficult dogs every day. Some owners are better on the leash than others. Sometimes, I know it’s not always easy for me to find something positive and encouraging to say when their handling skills aren’t the best. But here’s something I believe with all of my heart: If you have eyes to see something good, that’s what you’ll find. I always go into every lesson and evaluation wanting to encourage and leave people feeling hopeful about their situation.
When people have no hope, they have nothing at all. Encouragement is a priceless gift that costs you absolutely nothing, but means everything to the person who is hearing your words. Your encouragement can be something very simple, but the effects can be something that will stay with that person all day and maybe even longer.
Things you can do to be an encourager:
- Make a conscious decision to intentionally do it!
- Start looking for someone who seems like they’re riding the struggle bus.
- Think of something simple that might make them smile or lighten their load.
- Be sincere! People can spot a phoney, so make sure you really mean what you say.
- Smile when you say it! Smiles are contageous, and your smile might just create one for someone else.
I’d love to hear from you in terms of how you’ve either received encouragement that made a difference for you and your dog, or how you’ve encouraged others who really needed it. Let’s face it: we’re all in this life together. Wouldn’t you rather go through your day making a positive difference for the people who are all around you? Wouldn’t you love to know that your encouragement was helping a friend, family member or neighbor hang in there with their difficult dog? You never know….you could very well be saving a dog’s life!