#18 - Cultivating a
Growing Mindset

[00:00:00] Allie: Once you have figured out, you’re in the mindset of, “Okay. I’ve addressed things that I need to address, I’m in a growth mindset, I’m going to learn, I’m going to do it, even if it’s scary, even if it threatens my ego, I’m going to do it.” Then it’s you got to show up and do it.

Welcome to Enrichment for the Real World, the podcast devoted to improving the quality of life of pets and their people through enrichment. We are your hosts, Allie Bender…

[00:00:37] Emily: …and I’m Emily Strong…

[00:00:39] Allie: …and we are here to challenge and expand your view of what enrichment is, what enrichment can be and what enrichment can do for you and the animals in your lives. Let’s get started. Thank you for joining us for today’s episode of Enrichment for the Real World, and I want to thank you for rating, reviewing, and subscribing wherever you listen to podcasts.

Last week we heard from Matt Beisner, and one of the topics we discussed was being willing to continue learning. This week, we’re going to dive further into cultivating a growth mindset and talk about implementation with the animals, or really the humans in your life. In this implementation episode, Emily and I talk about why a growth mindset is necessary to elevate your enrichment strategy, addressing the shame of should, and how to process your Big Feels.

All right. Let’s dive in. I’m super stoked for this topic. Mindset is currently the thing that I’m really jazzed about in all aspects of my life, and so I’m glad that we get to talk about it on this podcast.

[00:01:35] Emily: Same here. I feel like, over the past couple of years, this has just been a recurring theme for me in that, everything that I’m trying to accomplish with our various programs, and things that I’m doing in my personal life, they’re all contingent on having a growth mindset. So, this is just super salient to my entire life right now.

[00:01:56] Allie: Absolutely. And now I want to take a moment to bring this back to enrichment, because it might seem like we veered a little off the enrichment path with bringing Matt on, but in reality, the growth mindset that he talked about last week is something that will help you with your enrichment strategy.

[00:02:12] Emily: For sure. The reason I kind of laughed is because, it’s just helpful for everything, but especially when we’re talking about our profession and how we’re choosing to work with pets, or even not our profession, even with just pet parents, when you’re making decisions about how to interact with your pet, learning how to cultivate this growth mindset, helps in so many different ways. Just being willing to challenge what you think you already know, just helps you become more compassionate, and a better problem solver, more effective, more humane for yourself and your learners. And it’s also about a perception shift. I can’t remember exactly how Matt phrased it because unfortunately I don’t have an eidetic memory, but I remember last week when Matt was talking about, us seeing success based on the limitations of our perception and that when we learn more, we realize that our older criteria for what we would consider successful changes. As we learn more and we grow, and it becomes more evolved. What we’re considering successful is totally different as we learn more than it was when we first started out. And that is really about that growth mindset as well. It’s just crucial in so many different ways.

[00:03:25] Allie: I think we see that with our clients all the time, where, when they start the behavior modification process, they look at goals and success in one way, and then as they get further down the process, you have them celebrating like, I was able to leave my dog for 10 seconds! And that’s not something that they ever thought they would celebrate at the beginning, and through learning about approximations they do. That perception is really key to the behavior modification process in addition to what we’re talking about with enrichment, because essentially, if you want to create the best possible enrichment strategy for the pets in your life, you need to be willing to challenge what you think you already know.

I think one of the number one things that we hear from our clients, both professionals and pet parents, when it comes to enrichment is that it’s completely different than what they thought it was. They were coming at it from a prescriptive lens, or that it was about combating boredom, or was limited to a certain items or certain activities. Whereas what we teach is that enrichment is all about meeting all of an animal’s needs. And that mindset change is one of the first things that we address in our Enrichment Framework for Behavior Modification Masterclass for Behavior Professionals. I don’t know if you see this Emily, but what I see is that the folks who can truly wrap their minds around that and like get it are the folks who have the most success in that course.

[00:04:48] Emily: Oh, yeah, for sure. I definitely agree with you on that.

[00:04:50] Allie: Because the right mindset is a necessity for maximum success. We behave in a way that aligns with our mindset, usually on kind of an unconscious level we do that. And so, the right mindset is absolutely critical. One of the mindsets that I think, and I think you agree with me, that all of us should have, regardless of whether you’re a professional or pet parents or something in between that is a growth mindset.

Speaking of should, I think that takes us to our first takeaway for today. That is addressing the shame of should, and that is such a beautiful way to say that. And I can’t take credit for that, Ellen Yoakum is the one who said it that way, so shout out to Ellen for phrasing it that way, because it’s beautiful.

One of the things that we see, and this could be around an enrichment strategy. This could be our rounds of behavior modification strategy. This could be around a whole myriad of things in your life, is that we have this notion of what we should be doing. Matt talked last week about how social media is meant to be addicting, and so you’re going to see a lot of animals who are doing things that maybe it’s not possible for your animal to do, or maybe your animal shouldn’t be doing, and there’s this guilt that comes along with it. I had a blog post at the time that this comes out, it will have been several months, but right now it was only like a month ago, came out at time of recording about enrichment guilt. We see all these really beautifully curated quote unquote enrichment strategies on social media, and people have a lot of guilt or shame about what they think they should be doing with their animals that they aren’t doing. Getting rid of that shame needs to be one of the first things that allows you to grow, because in reality, there are very few things that we actually should be doing with our animals.

[00:06:48] Emily: That shame can also look like a lot of different things, too, right? So, you’re talking about specifically when Matt was talking about the shame of what social media tells us that we should be doing with our pets, and that’s definitely one of them. There’s also a lot of professional pressure to be a certain way as a behavior professional, and I think that also comes from a lot of different directions as well. Because for example, you and I both for years, labeled ourselves as sloppy trainers because when we looked at what, you know, if you’re going to be a positive reinforcement trainer, this is how you should be training, this is what you should be doing, this is how you should be feeling about what you’re doing. And those expectations did not align with how we felt, or what we did, or what we wanted to do, what our motivations were. I know we had this conversation where we both realized that we both thought that we were sloppy trainers or not great trainers, and then the more that we’ve learned, the more we’ve realized actually we’re, we’re niching down in a different direction, that’s equally valid. We have different training styles, that is okay. Everybody has their own way of doing things, there are training trends that we’re not necessarily going to be in sync with, but, overall, the underlying behavioral foundations are still there, whether or not you’re following the trends. All of those things where we felt a lot of shame from within our own sort of community. I think that happens in other methodologies as well. Where, there’s a shame of wanting to learn more because it’s questioning or going against the status quo in that community, and I felt that shame as well when I was first starting to question and wanting to learn more. I experienced that shame, which was a whole different thing, where I’d spent years calling people cookie pushers, and then I’m like, “Oh my God, what if I’m becoming a cookie pusher?” Right?

That shame also, it’s coming from a totally different direction, but it’s another type of shame that we feel, and then I think there’s a shame across methodologies too. When you’re trying to learn, like what Matt discussed, his experience was, where when he’s trying to learn, and wanting to do better, shame from across the aisle where people are openly criticizing him for not already knowing the things.

There’s just so many directions that that shame can come from, and being able to identify that, and let go of that shame is such an important part of the process because you can’t cultivate a growth mindset, until you can disconnect the learning process from that feeling of shame.

[00:09:22] Allie: Absolutely. That’s a really good point that it comes from a lot of different places and also, from within yourself. You talked about with Matt last week, that part of the hard thing about going on a learning journey is that you have your identity wrapped up in that, and you have to go through that process of disconnecting yourself and your identity from the actions that you’re doing.

There’s a whole, a whole process that is way bigger than what we can talk about in this implementation episode, but that first step for cultivating a growth mindset needs to be addressing this, the shame of should, knowing that really the only thing you should be doing is growing and learning and everything else is up for debate.

[00:10:07] Emily: Yeah. Shame is multifaceted, and it’s not as simple as saying, “Okay, I’m not going to feel ashamed anymore.” This part in and of itself can be quite a journey. And you can need help in that journey, and sometimes even professional help in that journey. I know for me, it involved some therapy as well, but however you do that process, whatever that journey looks like, that really is the first step to developing that growth mindset.

[00:10:31] Allie: So, let’s get into our second takeaway, and that is stepping outside of your echo chamber. I think it’s no secret that, we, as humans tend to gravitate towards people who think like us, and look like us, and act like us. While there’s a whole like evolutionary, anthropological, like we’re not even going to get in and see that side of things of why that happens.

What that means is that we develop our own little echo chambers, where all of the people in our lives, are saying the same things. And so, we’re like, “Well, everybody that I know says the same thing, or thinks the same way, and so it must be true because everybody thinks this way.” And then when we step out of that echo chamber, like just stick, dip a toe outside of that echo chamber, we’re like, “Oh, not everybody thinks that way.”

That can feel very threatening to experience that.

[00:11:29] Emily: Yeah, I think that is a really big part of it as well. It’s weird because there’s a balance to be struck, right? On one hand, you have to go where you can grow, and stay where you are appreciated, and find the people that you can connect with, and can be your good support system. That should be like your home base, right?

That’s where you live. But you also have to leave the house once in a while and take a walk around the block. We’re not asking you to fly to a different country, but just take a walk around the block and see what else is out there. I think that’s the balance there, is that yes, we have to find our home and, plant ourselves in a place where we can thrive, but we don’t learn and grow and push ourselves until we step outside the house.

And that can be as simple as surrounding yourself with mentors who challenge you, and who don’t always agree with you and who aren’t just your cheerleaders, I mean, yes, it’s great to have mentors who are cheerleaders, but if they’re only telling you how great you are, and they’re not pushing you to challenge your thought processes, and learn more and do better then you run that risk of falling out of that growth mindset.

So, finding people in your safe space who are willing to continue to challenge you, and remind you that you’re still, and forever will be on that learning journey is, one of the ways that we can step outside of our echo chamber.

[00:12:56] Allie: Absolutely I have learned in the last couple of years that the mentors that I do best with are the mentors who will push me, who will tell me when I’m wrong, and be kind of blunt about it, to be honest. I had a marketing coach, Erica, who was not shy about telling me when she disagreed with me, and I was there to learn from her, and there are many times where after a meeting, I would go to Ellen and say, “I hear her. I know she’s right, because she knows way more about this topic than I do, but I’m having a pre-learning tantrum, and I need to sit with my thoughts for a moment, and I’ll come back to it.” And I am so grateful for that experience in that I had a mentor who pushed me to grow, who did disagree with me, who was not shy about telling me when I was wrong, but also gave me the space to process and learn, and I knew that I was safe with her. It wasn’t the scary world out there of everybody attacking me, even though I may have felt attacked, a time or two.

And I think that can be really hard to find in a mentor, so looking for mentors who will push you, and also will give you the space to collect your thoughts, and process, and let you go on that journey for yourself and recognize that it’s still a journey, and that you won’t level up immediately, life is not a video game in that way.

[00:14:25] Emily: One of the beautiful things about our relationship is also something that can be true for other friends and colleagues, it doesn’t have to be your business partner, but I think one of the reasons we work so well together is that we do that for each other too. We disagree about things, and we hash it out, and we go away, and we kind of go to our own corners, and talk to our own people, and get kind of third-party feedback. Sit, process, come back to the conversation, dig a little deeper, go to our corners process, come back, and we just keep doing that until we really understand each other’s position, and we find the middle ground, and make a decision about how to move forward based on that.

We would not be the same and our business would not be the same, if we were always just like… Oh, okay, so for our listeners, I have to explain that we jokingly refer to our team, the Pet Harmony team, as the Dorg, as in the dog training borg, and the reason we make that joke is because we are so like-minded, and so in step about so many things, that we just say, you will be assimilated, like we’re all part of the dog training borg. So, we call ourselves the dorg, but if we were legitimately for real the dorg, we wouldn’t challenge each other in that way and we wouldn’t come with these different perspectives, and learn, and grow, and improve, and we wouldn’t be as good as a business, if we were just always in lockstep about everything.

It’s not just about mentors, but finding friends and colleagues that you’re safe with, that you can trust that aren’t going to make harmful assumptions about you or unfair accusations, that can have an argument without falling back on ad hominem attacks, that you can disagree with each other, and use that as an opportunity to learn more about the topic, and about each other.

[00:16:07] Allie: And I think one of the things that happens when you step outside of your echo chamber, is you will inevitably happen upon, some topic, or saying, or whatever it is that you have Big Feels about where you’re like, “I don’t like this!” Let’s take just a moment to talk about what to do when you experience Big Feels.

[00:16:32] Emily: I don’t know what came talking about, Allie. I’ve never experienced that before; I’ve never had Big Feels about anything.

[00:16:36] Allie: This is definitely just for me that

[00:16:39] Emily: Definitely not about me at all.

[00:16:40] Allie: I’m definitely the emotional one, our relationship.

[00:16:44] Emily: Yep. I agree with that.

[00:16:45] Allie: So, Emily, you don’t need these steps, but for the other people out there.

[00:16:50] Emily: For everybody else.

[00:16:51] Allie: For everybody else, for me, and tell me if this is the same for you, Emily, but for me, when I experienced Big Feels the absolute first thing that I do is I look inwardly and I tried to figure out why do I feel this way?

Is it that I have a long-standing belief that, maybe I don’t know where it actually came from, maybe I’m just saying, things that I’ve heard in my echo chamber, but I don’t actually have evidence for? Is it that I have a standing belief and this new piece of information, it contradicts that? Is it that I actually do have a problem, I have an ethical problem with it, or I have factual evidence that contradicts the new information that is not coming from factual evidence, you know? So, I think that first part is looking inwardly and assessing, why do I have Big Feels before you decide what to do about that.

[00:17:50] Emily: I agree with you. I would almost say there’s a half-step, that I do anyway, even before that, which is, and I think you, once I say this, you’re probably going to go, oh yeah, you do do this. And that is, I go, ” I’m having real Big Feels right now. So, I need to step away and feel those feels.”

[00:18:08] Allie: Yes, you do say that. I think I just have a face and you’re like, you have Big Feels, I’ll let you go away.

[00:18:15] Emily: I’m going step away and let you feel your feelings, I can see you’ve got Big Feels face. Right. Whereas I tend to verbalize things more. I think the first step is actually, or maybe step 0.5, is recognizing that you’re having Big Feels about something, and giving yourself the space to feel them, right? Because your feelings are valid. They come from a real place, and you’re not going to process them by trying to ignore, trivialize, or suppress them. I think for me, that’s actually the first step, is I will say to whoever I’m talking to you, to usually you and Ellen. Most of the time, my Big Feels are coming from work, and I’ll say, “I’m having Big Feels, I need to go process these BRB.” And then, after I’ve kind of felt the feels and they’ve subsided, then I can go, “Okay, why do I feel this way?”

That’s the second half of that first step, is let yourself feel them, take a moment and then go, why, why is this happening? And for me, a lot of times, it’s, well actually there’s a lot of different reasons, but one of the things that I think has been recurring thing is realizing how much of my Feels about the business decisions that we’re making, are kind of recalling childhood traumas, and asking me to confront things that I’ve just kind of left behind. And so that I think is one of the, the sources of Big Feels. I think another source of Big Feels for me anyway, I can’t speak for anybody else is, ” Uh! Now I have to like, learn this whole new thing. This can’t be right. Oh, man. Look at all the things we’re going to have to change now because, oh, man. And I just wrote that whole thing, and now I’ve got to rewrite it!” Right? So, so that is part of it is like, “I cannot accept this because, this, the implication of like all the things I have to change now.”

And then another reason that Big Feels happen is like, “Oh my God, does this mean I’m actually an imposter? And the fact that I didn’t know, this means that I actually don’t know anything, and I have no business being in this profession.” And so, that feeling of like protecting your own sense of competency is such a big deal when, especially when we’re talking about professional topics. There’s just a lot of reasons for Big Feels.

And you have to kind of figure out what they are and be really honest with yourself about what they are. It hurts to admit that the reason that we’re having Big Feels is because we’re worried about our sense of competency, or it hurts to admit that the reason we’re having Big Feels is because we don’t want to have to do a bunch of work and change a bunch of things. Like that stuff isn’t pleasant to admit to ourselves, but we’re never going to be able to process and move through it until we, we are honest with ourselves about what’s actually going on.

[00:21:00] Allie: Yeah, those conversations can be hard to have with yourself. What you do from there is going to be dependent on why you’re having those Big Feels. If it’s as something as, I’m going to say, unthreatening, least threatening, as you have factual evidence, and the thing you’re hearing does not have factual evidence, you can do your due diligence, and make sure that the actual evidence still aligns with what you believe, and then carry on with your life. But if there is something else that’s going on, then it could be something like, Emily, as you talked about, there are reasons why we believe what we believe because of past trauma, and that could require bringing in a professional to seek help for those things, so that we can move past something in our life.

Or it could be, again, talking to friends, colleagues, mentors. It could be just sitting with yourself. It could be going through the evidence yourself, and going on a Google Scholar deep dive, not a Google, a Google Scholar, deep dive,

[00:22:03] Emily: Yes. Thank you for clarifying that.

[00:22:05] Allie: Big difference between those two. The why is going to then dictate how you address that moving forward. That I think segues nicely into our third takeaway, which is do the work.

Once you have figured out, you’re in the mindset of, “Okay. I’ve addressed things that I need to address, I’m in a growth mindset, I’m going to learn, I’m going to do it, even if it’s scary, even if it threatens my ego, I’m going to do it.” Then it’s you got to show up and do it.

[00:22:34] Emily: Cause it’s easy to say, I’m learning, I’m open to learning, I want to learn, and show up and listen to people, and then just walk away and not actually do anything about that. And again, I’m not trivializing how important the releasing the shame is, and how important it is to process emotions, because as we just discussed these are things that are very challenging for me as well, but then the actual acting on that new information, and actually changing what you do based on what you’ve learned is, maybe it’s not the hardest part, but it’s the part that requires the most dedication, right? The most commitment to, “I’m actually making those changes. I’m not just letting it go in one ear and out the other. I’m changing my behavior based on new information.” That is, the part, it just never ends, right? Cause you’re, incorporating that into your life, your lifestyle, your worldview, everything.

Now, all of that said, it is unsustainable to try to do this all the time. Nobody can be actively learning and growing 100% of the time. That’s not how life works. I think there’s a really powerful parallel or analogy between physical growth and mental and emotional growth in that, when animals are young, including humans, you have these like little chubby cheeked babies, and then they go through this growth spurt and then they’re like long and lean, and then they kind of fill out a little more, and then they go through another growth spurt, and they’re long and lean, and then they fill out a little more, and it happens that way for a reason, right? Because if we just did all growing and didn’t stop to take time to kind of fill out, our bodies would not be structurally stable. We couldn’t keep up with the growth, and I think that really applies also to mental and emotional growth. That we have to have these periods of growth, where we kind of get long and lean in this new paradigm that we exist in, and then it’s really important to just sit in that paradigm, and exist, and percolate, and process, and operate in that new kind of mindset and just focus on self-care, and some mental rest, and let yourself exist. And then when you feel rested and ready, do that other, that next growth spurt, where you’re challenging yourself, taking a new information, getting long and lean again, and then rest again.

I think that’s an equally important component to the growth mindset, because I definitely have times where I feel. When I start to feel like I don’t know anything, and I start to feel like, “Man, should I even be doing this profession? Because I really don’t know anything.” That’s a signal to me that I’m, I’ve had a growth spurt and I’m long and lean. And it’s time for me to kind of slow my role in the continuing education department, and just let myself exist in my current knowledge, and rest and just take care of myself. And learn to delight in my new knowledge and skills and get to enjoy them and swim in them a little bit, and have fun with it.

Like that’s an important component of that. That’s an important part because when we talk about the growth mindset with people, I don’t know if this happens to you, Allie, but when I’m talking with people about the growth mindset, people always express relief when I say that part, they’re like, “Oh, good. So, I don’t have to constantly be studying things, and double verifying information, double checking and all of that.” And I’m like, “No, no, but that’s not sustainable. Nobody could do that all the time.” And people are like, “Oh, thank you!”

[00:25:54] Allie: Yeah, I think that’s a really, really important things to bring up because I know I feel that way after I have a long and lean growth spurt there where I expect of myself to continue on that trajectory, and to continue at that level, and it’s just not sustainable to do that. So, I think that’s a really important piece to bring up.

The nice thing is too, that while you’re in that filling out state As it were, you get to continue practicing to do the work, and you’re just doing it at the level that you’re currently at instead of, you know, striving for the next level. So, you become more proficient at doing the work while you’re in that filling out stage, which is really nice too. And something that we of course need if we’re going to continue doing the work down the road.

[00:26:45] Emily: We are building fluency, so it’s almost like we’re alternating between acquisition and fluency as we go.

[00:26:51] Allie: It’s almost like there are stages of learning.

[00:26:53] Emily: It’s almost as if learning is cyclical and it never ends. This is a longer than usual episode, I, I feel like that’s merited, right? Because this is so important, and it’s such a difficult topic, and listening to this episode may even be the thing that’s challenging people, right?

So, I feel like it’s important to spend a little extra time in this episode, but I want to give a personal story of when this has happened to me a personal example, so that, very clear that I’m not just like shaking my finger at the rest of the world, but like, yo, this happens to me too, like all the time.

My favorite example of this experience for myself was my journey and learning about dominance because I had come from a more aversive training background that believed in dominance, and, you know, I did all the alpha roles and all of that stuff. When I started learning about the behavior sciences, and I learned that, you know, you don’t do that stuff with animals, and especially with other species, that’s not how parrot social structure works. And you know, all of that, I felt this enormous sense of relief that I didn’t have to constantly have a war of wills with the animals that I loved.

I felt the sense of like, “Yay. Dominance is in the thing. What a relief that I don’t have to do this anymore. Amazing. Happy, happy, happy.” And then, I kept learning, and when I started learning about, the ethological definition of dominance, well, I, I should say when I just started learning more about the ethology of dogs in general.

And I started learning the ethological definition of dominance, I had real Big Feels. I remember reading some of these studies, about dog social structure, and this was back when Allie and I worked at a sanctuary together, and I was supposed to write an article about this, and so I was doing reading a lot of different studies. And like just this burning feeling in the pit of my stomach, and I was like shaky, and my palms were sweaty. I was so mad that they were talking about dominance in dogs. And I was like, “Why is this so hard for me? I like, why is like just writing an article for this place that I work almost bringing me to tears. Like this is real, real hard for me.” And I realized after giving it some thought, and kind of walking it off, that it was violating my sense of safety.

Because I had, I felt like I had kind of been rescued from, this paradigm of constantly having to be in a combative relationship with animals, and the idea that dominance does exist after all, haha. I realized that I didn’t feel safe, I felt like I had to go back to that paradigm again.

But once I realized that I was like, okay, I value accuracy and I value science, and so I need to be able to hear what they’re saying, because if I’ve learned anything, it’s that there’s a lot of nuance and complexity. So, I went back, and I read those studies with that kind of fresh perspective, and the awareness of why I was having Big Feels about it.

And I realized that how dominance actually works in dogs looks nothing like that combative hierarchy. You’re still not going to alpha roll your dog, and that how dominance actually works in dogs. it makes a lot of sense, it’s actually pretty cool. it’s really fluid and contextual. It actually didn’t in any way, impact how I work with dogs, and it doesn’t actually mean that I have to go back to being combative again. If anything, it helps me to be more compassionate and be more proactive in preventing conflict between other dogs. Learning more about that thing has deeply impacted and profoundly improved my abilities as a behavior consultant, but I first had to go through that process of really Big Feels, identifying the Feels, processing them, and coming back to the information with a fresh perspective, and then embracing it. It happens to everybody, it’s happened to me many, many times. That’s just one example, but I feel like it’s important to normalize this process because it’s a very human experience.

[00:31:00] Allie: A very human experience, we all go through it. My example for today is, something that, and you know what? I tried to think of a specific client, and I have this experience so many times that I couldn’t come up with just one person for this and talking about that growth mindset. Specifically, around the activities that we should quote unquote, be doing with our pets and in our enrichment strategy. One of the conversations that I have with many, many clients is asking them why they walk their dogs. I asked this question for different reasons, whether it’s because the walk is unenjoyable to the human, or the dog, or both is often the case for the clients who come to us. Or because it doesn’t seem like the walk is having the effect that the client wanted it to have, or, you know, for some other reason. A lot of the time they’d tell me what they’re doing for their pet, and I ask them, “So, tell me why you’re walking your dog?”

Almost always it is met with this face of, ” I have never thought about this before.” Almost always, I don’t remember a time where I, it wasn’t met with that face. Folks have to truly think through, ” Why am I doing this?” Other than, someone at some point in time said that this is something that you should do if you’re going to be a good pet parent. One of the things that comes out of this conversation a lot of the time is that we decide, maybe we shouldn’t walk the dog. Or maybe we shouldn’t do it as much as we are in the way that we are. Or we’re not going to do it for now, but that’s not a forever decision, whatever it is.

I see people go through this process where they are receiving information that is, essentially attacking their very way of thinking the things that they’ve thought about dogs for their entire lives, that if you’re a good pet parent, you go for a walk with your dog, and my recommendation is the exact opposite of that.

Let’s not, you have an amazing fenced in backyard. Let’s play there. Let’s go out on leash to potty if they don’t have a fenced in backyard, and then let’s have a rousing game of tug inside the house for physical exercise. For some people I can simply just say like, “You know what? We have this kind of relationship, just trust me. I’m asking for two weeks, just try this. Here’s what I’m going to replace, the mental and physical exercise with so that we’re not just removing things and not replacing them with something valuable and beneficial. Just give me two weeks and try it.” The people who are able to go through that process, ” Okay. I don’t know that I believe this, I don’t know that I agree with you, but I hear you. I’m going to try it. I’m going to have this growth mindset around my enrichment strategy.” Those are the people that come back in two weeks and they’re like, “Oh man, we’ve had an amazing two weeks. I have not had to come back from a walk in tears because of how reactive my dog is, and we’ve had a lovely time playing fetch in the backyard instead. They’re actually tired after that instead of bouncing off the walls, like they are on a walk.” And then I have the people who have a harder time embracing that, who are not perhaps as far along in the learning journey, when it comes to growth mindset around their dog’s enrichment strategy specifically. You can be on different parts of that learning journey, on different scenarios. You can be further along in one category than in another category, this is something that doesn’t always generalize well. I have people who come back in two weeks and they’re like, “I heard what you said, and I’m still walking my dog three times a day and it’s still going terribly.”

And I’m like, “Yeah, I understand. So, let’s talk further about why you feel like you have to. Why you feel like you should.” For some people they say, “it’s just really important to me. I love it. What I get out of it is more beneficial than all of the aversive things that happen to me when I walk with my dog.” And I say, “Okay, then let’s figure out a way that it’s more beneficial for both of you.”

 I would say fairly regularly, I have that conversation and it’s really interesting to watch how a growth mindset changes the outcome of that conversation. Humans are interesting is the moral of that story.

[00:35:33] Emily: I agree. I love working with non-humans, and I love non-humans, and I’ve devoted my life to them, but the older I get, and the more I learn, the more I really love working with humans, and figuring out how to best serve the humans in my life.

[00:35:51] Allie: Thank you for sticking with us for a little bit longer for today, I know we try to usually keep these short, but this was one where I think it was worthwhile to have a little bit of a longer episode because of how difficult this topic is.

I know that there are times where I listened to podcast episodes and I’m like, “Okay, I got it, stop attacking me.” So, we needed to hash out some things so that hopefully, we’re not just attacking this episode.

So, today we talked about cultivating a growth mindset and that includes addressing the shame of should, stepping outside of your echo chamber, and of course doing doing the work. Next week, we will be talking with Kathy Sdao about food motivation myths. There are so many gems in this interview with Kathy, and that diet nutrition category of enrichment doesn’t get as much of a spotlight as some of the other categories do, and so I’m thrilled that we get to dive further into one of the aspects of that category by talking about eating and how critical it is to your pet’s enrichment strategy.

Thank you for listening. You can find us at petharmonytraining.com and @petharmonytraining on Facebook and Instagram, and also @petharmonypro on Instagram for those of you who are behavioral professionals. As always links to everything we discussed in this episode are in the show notes and a reminder to please rate, review and subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts a special thank you to Ellen Yoakum for editing this episode, our intro music is from Penguin Music on Pixabay.


Thank you for listening and happy training.

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