Puppies Bite & Other Coaching Tips to Help you Lead Your Teams
A New Home for Bailey
We were an animal free household up until this past April. Like most kids, I had always wanted a puppy while I was growing up. However, my parents were pretty firm – NO.
And no, we were not on the ‘pandemic puppies’ wave of people who thought it was a great time to get a puppy. This was a fully thought-out, well researched decision. For example, we actually decided back in January 2020 we would get a puppy in April! This way, all of our kids’ competitive sports would be done and we could train over the spring and summer. We thought this would be well before we went back to our hectic schedules come fall!
Talk about stating the obvious! Of course little puppies bite, it’s a natural animal trait. However, who knew that a cute cuddly looking puppy could be a swirling ball of fur and sharp teeth?!?! For starters, definitely NOT ME.
Well, we know how this story goes. Like all of our best laid plans for 2020, a pandemic hit but our cute and cuddly mini goldendoodle puppy Bailey was still on his way! And what no book nor video I watched really underscored was one of the most significant truths of puppy ownership – that puppies bite!
Coaching Tips Garnered from Dog Training Basics
Bailey’s first week home we tried to hold down the fort on our own. With the uncertainty of whether we were training properly, 1 potty accident under our belt, and growing nipping at our hands, I quickly called for backup and hired a trainer. Because… puppies bite! And when they do, that sh#t hurts!
These experiences highlighted some truths about coaching and mentoring that I could apply to both our client work, and our own team. Sometimes we fantasize about how wonderful coaching or mentoring someone is going to be. For example, we think that everything will fall into place, just as we have laid out.
This simply is not the case, as I learned from Bailey! So, here are 4 coaching tips that were reinforced while I was training Bailey:
Coaching Tip #1: Not all who need coaching know they need coaching (or want it!)
Bailey likes himself exactly the way he is. However, his natural instincts to chew on everything, and pee and poop anywhere that isn’t his bed, doesn’t work for us! Similarly, we are all on a journey to become better versions of ourselves, whether we are aware of it or not. But, when we are aware, we become open to learning from our daily interactions. For those of us who believe we “know everything”, coaching becomes even more of a challenge.
TIP: Seek help from someone who has gone before you, who you respect and can work with.
Coaching Tip #2: Reward wins – big and small
Bailey loves getting treats. It’s fun! It reinforces the right behaviours! People are similar. We love praise, we love doing well. For instance, breaking down bigger tasks into smaller chunks and recognizing good effort allows people to get positive reinforcement along their journey.
TIP: Set up a way to regularly reward your mentee’s accomplishments. This helps get buy-in, and focuses effort + activities on getting more wins or success.
Coaching Tip #3: Failure is part of the process
Bailey has nailed ‘sit’, ‘down’, and ‘stand’. However, ‘rollover’ and ‘fetch’ are complete FAILS…so far. On the upside, there have been no potty accidents in our house since 9 weeks old. In addition, he was sleeping through the night from his first night home. Regardless of those wins, failure as a coach, and failure as a ‘player’ happens. Sometimes you work really hard and you still don’t hit the mark. That’s ok. Great learning comes from those days too. A big coaching tip I use is to celebrate the wins when they happen. And on the flip side, accept the failures as they come. The important step is to pick yourself back up, dust yourself off and figure out what you’ll do differently next time.
TIP: Put a period behind every day. Wake up each morning with renewed vigour, a fresh slate and the zeal to tackle a new day!
Coaching Tip #4: Having a bad day is ok
Puppies bite – and it hurts. And when Bailey bites, I remind myself that changing a behaviour that is a natural instinct is hard work – for Bailey. He is allowed to have an off day. This is no different for people. The coaching process requires you to push outside comfort zones and change.
This means that sometimes, your mentee has a bad day. However, it does not mean you write them off.
Regression is actually indicative of progression!
TIP: Patience is part of the process.
Patience. Persistence. Perseverance.
A simple addition of a puppy to our family was a great, gentle reminder that change and learning is simply part of the coaching journey. It is oh so rewarding to see the fruits of your labour, but the journey takes time. Patience, persistence, and perseverance are core tenants when helping your team members reach the next level.