Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is Charley’s confidence. But the city slowly became a hallmark of pride, inspiration, and awe. That’s where our little Einstein is headed. Charley has been slowly gaining his confidence, and trusting his humans to lead him there. More and more he is choosing what is right, and quicker and quicker he is to realize his mistakes and to adjust his actions accordingly.
Perhaps the most powerful tool of training is not the incentive of a reward, but instead the relationship between a dog and their human(s). The importance of this bond nurtures a level of security – in their confidence in their owner’s ability to lead and guide them, in making the right choices, in knowing that making the right choice leads to successful outcomes, and in knowing the right choice will lead to approval and applause. Because what better self confidence booster is there than the satisfaction of being able to successfully perform or problem solve, and receive praise and recognition for it?
Charley is accepting humans as his advocates who create positive experiences in controlled environments and set him up for success. He looks to them for direction. However, despite the structures and boundaries, he is not coddled. He still has the freedom to make his own choices; in the end he gets to decide what he likes and doesn’t like, where his limits lie, and receives respect from his humans for his choices accordingly. He is allowed to refuse consent and is being taught how to communicate that properly.
Charley has learned to focus on his humans to allow them to lead, and practice restraint by controlling his emotions and impulses. Like a good community citizen, he is learning not everything in life is free; there are boundaries, structure, and a societal fabric where everything has its place. When he has moments of insecurity and negative reactions, he is guided towards the proper choices. Both Charley and humans experience success because they have taken the time to learn from and understand each other. A mutual respect exists to build each other’s confidence together with progression, not fear, intimidation, or aversion to force submission.
With consistent structure and boundaries, Charley and his foster mom are working to overcome triggers which make him apprehensive. He trusts her to be in control of the situation and keep him safe. She, in turn, trusts him to make good choices and not revert to using his fight instincts, and instead communicate his unease with other forms of body language. He is also building confidence in knowing she will provide for him not only emotionally, but physically as well, and to learn to feel secure with his belongings.
There were many things Charley did not allow before, but now consents to with his new found confidence and trust. Trust and confidence take time and come hand in hand. He doesn’t always find it right away. Sometimes there is a giant leap forward. Other days we take 2 steps back until we can move forward again. But that’s okay. What’s important is that there is progress nonetheless, and we will continue to celebrate all victories whether small or large.
Written by Sara Liao, Board of Director & Adoption Manager