Catch them when they are good

We had this little guy come into our life couple of days back. When he came home, he was ill and injured. Someone had broken his leg and he was constantly shivering. After couple of days of nursing, milk and pedigree, he is now as healthy and happy as any other dog.

The guy who was scared to look at our faces today whines outside our rooms, asking us to come play with him.

He was my morning alarm today. After 30 minutes of whining, I finally got up at 6:30 am and sat with him. He seemed hungry. Got him food and then he seemed to want to play.

Now we live in an apartment — and our flat is in the first floor. So we started going downstairs and he suddenly stopped there.

At first he tried whining and going back as a sign of rejection but I stood there and kept calling him. So he came back, visibly scared of the stairs. I helped him climb down the first one. He accidentally slipped and fell into the second step. He then tried extending one arm to the third step and tried to jump.

He soon got the hang of it and started jumping down with me.

At the end of the whole act, I praised him, showed affection and gave more treats.

As I read further on Google about Dog behaviours and training, I understood that dogs learn much more when you praise and treat them for the right things they do.

Catch them when they are good.

I had also seen this TEDx talk by Dr. Ivan Joseph a while ago that revolves around the same theme. Him as a soccer coach ensured that he praised the right things the players did more than the negative ones. This also helps them boost their self-confidence he says.

Now that I reflect upon my upbringing and our society, people have had something to tell me when I make a mistake. We always make sure to point out when something goes wrong. In fact, my parents believe that appreciating more would make me more egoistic. Now I’m not sure where the thin line is — between boosting someone’s ego vs boosting their self-confidence.

But truth is that I’m no different. I also find me being too hard on myself for the silly mistakes I do but when I do good, I tell myself “It’s not a big deal. You just got lucky.”

Perhaps it’s time to change and catch people when they are good and catch myself when I’m good.