They make puppies cute because otherwise we would not put up with their bullshit for a year until they calm down. Some part of me must have forgotten this loving violence. I mean, it has been 7 years since the first ears behind the name Three Ears Media showed up at my house.
Back then, I had very little tolerance for the frustrations that inevitably come while training a dog. Every distraction felt like it was pushing my buttons. It was stopping me from working and that was the only place I found value in my time. I remember sitting in therapy and saying I was clearly broken for being this upset about a dog. I was not. Seven years of self-growth and many therapy hours later, it wasn’t me. Puppies are insanely frustrating. It takes patience I don’t always have and repetition that frustrates me to train a dog to listen instead of biting.
I wasn’t planning on getting a dog. Then I did. If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you know that I foster-failed last Friday with a little Boston Terrier named Dewey. Dewey came to me after 3 failed adoptions and a lot of chaos for a little dog. I told myself after the 2nd time, if he became available again, I’d keep him. We have that chaos thing in common. I felt bonded to him.
He was returned from his latest home just a few days after I came back to North Carolina following 6 weeks of travel. So, on Friday, I went to pick him up and I instantly jumped into training to ensure he’d be able to travel in the van. I need a dog that can be off-leash with confidence and respond to cues as we travel to different places.
We’re a long way out from that. Let’s just say we are both on a big learning curve. Even through the frustration, I realize that we’re teaching each other. Here are a few of the lessons we’ve figured out in just one week – for being a good dog and a good human.
- You get more of what you want when you ask kindly. I’ve yelled, screamed, cried, and everything else without any result as this 7 pound dog has tried to torment me while working. When I speak kindly and calmly, the results are almost instant. Ask nicely and you might just get what you want.
- We need to be held. Dewey has been overstimulated with constant change in his life (join the club, kid) and it takes a lot of play and training to get him to go to sleep. The only place he’ll relax? In my arms. Usually while I’m trying to do a call. He knows he’s safe there. I won’t give up. We can all benefit from being held – emotionally and physically.
- Consistency is key. I hate all the inspirational messages that are like “the only thing standing between you and your dreams is consistency,” but there’s something to it. When I show up every day in the same ways with Dewey, I see him relax (even if he has to run in circles first). I’m learning what’s good for him and doing it every day. For both dogs and people, that works. We all need to know what’s good for us and do that. On repeat.
- Go to your room with a treat. Every minute isn’t for training. I do have a job, after all. I need money to pay for all these toys. There are hours in the day that I just have to put him in his crate with a treat and let him sleep. It’s better for both of us when we take a break with a treat.
- You can’t pay attention if you’re multi-tasking. I tried to check my phone while I walked Dewey and someone ate an M&M. Everything turned out ok, but he knows when I’m not focused on what’s happening in real time. People do, too. Focus is a form of love.
In just 7 days, this little dog named Dewey has taught more lessons than most webinars and the most important lesson of all: that love can be unconditional.
Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.