Miles and I are pretty firm in our routine. He knows that I always feed him dinner and take him for a walk around 4 or 5 o’clock. If I’m in the house starting around 2 o’clock, I can count on him to be glued to my side. Every time I make a move, he’s right there. If I’m working at my desk, he will sit beside me and stare. He’ll be watching for any sign of movement, signaling my possible descent downstairs to his food bowl. Watching his behavior, you would think that I never feed him.
By about 4 o ‘clock, I can no longer stand the feeling of someone staring at me and I make my way to the kitchen. I feed him and get his leash ready for the walk. He scarfs down the food morsels within a 20 second span and then turns to me for the next act.
Today, I felt pretty lucky that I was able to walk him before the big downpour of rain. The weather was just perfect— sunshine with a nice breeze to cool things down. As usual, Miles walked fast and insisted on leaving his calling card on every single bush and tree within a 2-block radius. When we turned around and began our walk back to the house, Miles sat down. He sprawled out under a tree and decided he was done. I didn’t notice this detail, so I continued to walk until the long, taut leash pulled me back.
I told Miles that he could take a little break but then we were going to go back home. When I got close to him, he quickly turned over on his back to show me he was ready to get picked up. I tried to “marionette” him to walk but that didn’t work. Frustrated and angry, I finally gave up and picked him up. Miles seemed quite content with my decision.
I listen daily to successful women that are unhappy with the relationships in their lives. They want the people in their professional or personal lives to change and they ask my advice as how to make this happen. They have a proactive approach to life and are very problem/solution oriented. All of this is wonderful but they’re leaving out one very important detail. You can’t make people change and you can’t convince people that they need to change. In fact, the harder you try, the less effective you will be.
You can, however, change your own part in the scenario. A relationship is dynamic and if you change your own behavior, then the other individual’s behavior will also have to adapt. It might take time before you see the desired changes in the other individual, but it’s definitely an empowering and healthy way to handle the situation.
Now, back to Miles. I was livid with Miles when he was lying under the tree and expected me to pick him up. I could swear he had a smile on his face. But who was really responsible for this travesty? What had I taught him to expect from me? He had the routine down from the signs that I was getting ready to feed him until the moment that I gave in and picked him up. I had trained him on this whole experience.
However, if I changed my behavior, he would also have to make some changes. Maybe the first time, things wouldn’t go so smooth, but if I stayed the course on this new change, the Pug would eventually have no choice but to adapt.
It’s really not that different with humans.