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look good on paper” is, in fact, giving you a gift. A person who vocalizes such a thought is demonstrating a lack of impulse control and may thus be far removed from your ideal client (i.e. one you can easily coach for optimal success achieving a win-win-win for you, the client and the dog). Let us rethink rejection. It seems that, in modern life, rejection can actually be a gift for both humans and dogs. It enables us to learn emotional regulation and self-control. We can learn to accept a “no” and not personalize this information. We may also learn that many requests have a number. After all, many people who have asked for things have been initially rejected. Just think, had author J.K. Rowling not persisted after the first publisher rejected her, her incredible success worldwide would not exist. Rejection can function as motivation. If a client tells you he or she does not want to hire you, use this as fuel to improve your services, social skills, training skills, or whatever else you think may need more refining. Instead of sulking about the rejection, leverage it as energy and use it to improve yourself. Read yet another dog training book or article, or feed your passion in some way so that you gain, because there is no actual loss. It is also possible to use the knowledge gained from hearing “no,” which is often perceived as rejection, to learn how to angle for a “yes.” For us humans, we can leverage the information gleaned from the negative response. This data can then help us convert a “no” to a “yes” in another scenario. For example, if a pet therapy recipient says “no” to our dog’s visit, a simple followup question, such as, “May I ask if there is a reason?” could yield data that the person is scared of larger dogs and would prefer a visit from a small dog. Next time we return to this facility, we can bring a small dog instead, thus finding a win-win in the face of rejection. Dogs can benefit from rejection too. A person who does not want to say hello to a dog during pet therapy visits will appreciate your dog’s acceptance and polite behavior. In turn, your dog gets to learn self-control, which is an important life skill. A polite dog and a person not jumped on = win-win. For therapy dogs,

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we can make it a win-win experience by feeding the dog a cookie for skipping that person. The dog learns that, if he says hello, he gets petted, which is tactile reinforcement. If the person does not say hello, he gets cookies. What initially appeared as rejection can be turned around to benefit human and dog alike. Lovingly saying “no” is another thing that can be learned from exploring rejection. Consent testing is a good example. Using a dog’s body language to determine if he wants to interact or not is an extremely useful tool. Consent testing “asks” the dog if he wants to be petted by reaching for him, and then observing his body language for an answer. If he moves toward the reaching hand, then this is a “yes,” and he wants to be petted. If he moves away, however, then this is a “no.” Humans may feel hurt when a dog says “no,” but ultimately listening to and accepting the rejection is what prevents dog bites. More importantly, acknowledging and honoring a “no” in this moment may very well lead to a “yes” in the future. In the same way, a dog that is rejected by another dog after soliciting play can be redirected to another dog (or human) to continue playing, thus learning appropriate play. Ideal dog play happens between two dogs that are enjoying the interaction in that moment. Both parties must consent to create a win-win. Without this, there is a risk for reactivity. The dog facing possible rejection may attempt to undo this feeling by continuing to solicit play, which could end in a dog fight. Instead, by redirecting or even teaching a dog to relax when he had the intention of playing, trainers can educate dogs to accept rejection. Just remember, rejection is simply information. It does not need to be an emotional crisis for any of us. n Angelica Steinker PCBC-A owns and operates Courteous Canine, Inc. DogSmith of Tampa, www.courteouscanine .com/Florida, a full service pet business and dog school specializing in aggression and dog sports. She is the national director of training for DogSmith Services, www.dogsmith.com, and cofounder of DogNostics Career College, www .dognosticselearning.com.

BARKS from the Guild/March 2017

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BARKS from the Guild March 2017  

The bi-monthly trade publication from the Pet Professional Guild covering all things animal behavior and training, canine, feline, equine, p...

BARKS from the Guild March 2017  

The bi-monthly trade publication from the Pet Professional Guild covering all things animal behavior and training, canine, feline, equine, p...