Gratitude: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness
In the hustle and bustle of today’s world, it can be challenging to remember to show and practice some basic elements need for a successful, happy, and meaningul life. One of those being gratitude. We often take things for granted and don’t remember to be thankful and gracious for all of the good, wonderful, and positive things present in our lives.
Gratitude is an often-overlooked aspect of dog training, but it can have a profound impact on the success of your training efforts and bring you and your dog closer together. Here are some reasons why gratitude is important in dog training:
1. Gratitude strengthens the bond between you and your dog.
When you express gratitude for your dog’s good behavior, it reinforces the positive connection between you and them. This positive reinforcement can help to build trust and create a stronger bond between you. Trust also creates safety, which is a crucial component of a happy, healthy, and harmonious realtionship between your dog and you.
2. Gratitude helps to reduce stress and anxiety in both you and your dog.
Gratitude has been shown to have a number of benefits for mental health, including reducing stress and anxiety. When you focus on the things you’re grateful for, you can help to create a more positive and relaxed environment for yourself and your dog. This can be especially helpful during training sessions, when both you and your dog may be feeling some initial stress, anxiety, and worry.
3. Gratitude helps to create a more positive and rewarding training experience.
When you focus on the positive aspects of your dog’s behavior, you’re more likely to enjoy the training process. This can make training more fun for both you and your dog, and it can help you to stay motivated to continue training even when things get tough.
The human brain is wired for negativity; it is an instinctual survival mechanism, but it can often get in the way of important relationships and can stall or delay dog training.
4. Gratitude can help to improve your dog’s behavior.
Studies have shown that dogs are more likely to repeat behaviors that are rewarded with gratitude. This is because gratitude is a form of positive reinforcement, which is a powerful tool for shaping behavior.
What we reward and reinforce will utlimately grow, whether it’s positive in nature or negative. Be careful where you place your attention and efforts.
5. Gratitude can help you to appreciate your dog more.
When you take the time to appreciate your dog’s good behavior, you’re more likely to see them in a positive light. This can help you to develop a deeper appreciation for your dog and all that they do for you and help your remember to not just focus on the things you don’t like or want to change.
As a gratitude practice, every day say something out loud about your dog or your life with them that you are thankful and grateful for. Even better, if you tell it to your dog directly.
I start each of my group training classes and sessions this way so we can get into a more healthy, productive, and thankful mindset towards our canine companions. We can be too quick to focus on the negative and it’s a natural and normal response. But let’s practice flipping the script and be more intentional and thankful with our thoughts, words, and actions.