From playing by The Rules to Bridget Jones’ obsession with appearing to be an ‘aloof, unavailable ice queen’, lots of relationship advice for women seems to hark back to playing hard to get.
Now one relationship expert has come up with yet another take on this concept: treating your partner like a puppy.
Remember the unconditional love and attention you get from a devoted hound? Well, life coach Sloan Sheridan-Williams suggests that we can get the same from our partners – by training them as you would a puppy.
‘What I have found in my relationship coaching is that partners who follow a few simple puppy psychology rules in their relationships tend to have healthy, loving partnerships,’ says Sloan.
‘These are generally based on the four pillars of relationship success; honesty, trust, respect and integrity.’
While Sloan recommends drawing upon traditional puppy psychology, she doesn’t suggest women should literally treat their men the same way they do their dogs.
‘That would be disrespectful and would not work to produce lasting results,’ says Sloan.
‘But I do condone changing your behaviour to elicit a better response from your partner.
‘In nature, dogs like to form packs and therefore it makes sense to relate to people in the same way you would relate to man’s best companion.’
Everything in Moderation
With a puppy you very soon realise they do not know how to regulate their eating, playtime hours or even their behaviour towards other dogs. Just as you wouldn’t put a whole bag of dog food out and allow a puppy to decide how much to eat or not, don’t offer your partner everything on a plate.
Puppies are taught early on they have to earn respect and rewards by good behaviour. Using the same logic, if you give your other half everything they want without them earning it, they will never learn how to regulate their wants and desires and therefore, they will never learn how to appreciate you.
Every dog owner knows that feeling when their puppy is off the lead and running towards a squirrel or worse still a busy road and our instinct is to run towards them. However the experienced dog owner knows that catching their dog’s attention then running the other way is far more likely to get your puppy to start chasing you.
In relationships the same applies, chasing your partner, checking up on them or making them feel that you are always there is going to inevitably push your partner away or at the very least create complacency in them.
Apply puppy psychology by creating scarcity. Moving away from your partner when they pull away, be it in the form of catching up with friends or finding a new hobby, enables them to come running back to you.
Say what you mean
With puppies we don’t give mixed messages, we clearly say no when we mean no and we clearly show them what makes us happy and what does not work for us.
Communicating your wants and needs clearly to your other half in the way you do to a puppy helps you draw boundaries as to what you will and won’t tolerate.
It is unfair to expect your partner to read between the lines so be clear, concise and logical in your requests for the best outcome.
Reward don’t punish
When training a puppy most dog owners will tell you punishment doesn’t work. The only way is to reward good behaviour and ignore bad behaviour.
The ethos here is to forgive and forget but do not tolerate. It is important to be compassionate but don’t be a pushover.
The first step is to find out what your partner considers a reward and then come up with a plan to deliver it in a timely fashion immediately after the positive act.
The final step is to decide which behaviours elicit a reward. Each couple has their own idea of good behaviour be it flowers or completing chores around the house or helping get the children ready for school, whatever it is make sure your other half adds value to the partnership before you reward them.
Any reward scheme needs to be compounded over and over for long lasting results otherwise your partner will lose interest in maintaining the positive
Refuse to play if disobedient
You will see that other dogs will quickly teach puppies what is acceptable game play and what is too much. They show short sharp bursts of growling and then defend their space.
You will see an intelligent puppy, back away lick its wounds and approach with more caution the next time.
Likewise, let your partner learn the hard way, sometimes he needs to get bitten to learn not to dip his toe in to the fire. Whether your partner has a wandering eye, doesn’t do his chores or is lazy with your children although you obviously cannot bite them, you can make their life uncomfortable.
As I said before, punishment doesn’t work. However, if you give them a short sharp shock, your partner may retreat temporarily to lick their dented ego but they will return with a more desire to step up to the plate.
Be consistent, firm and logical
A puppy will know the weakest link in any pack and will often beg from them. The owners who show firm resolve never to feed their dog at the table will find their dog will not ask for food because they will not waste energy on a fruitless task.
Consistency is key to talking to anyone be it a partner, a friend or a work colleague. If you show you are firm in what you believe be it your values, ethics or morals you will quickly find most people will realise they cannot shift your position and they won’t bother trying.
They will also clearly know that carrying out A,B and C will produce a specific result and then they can choose if they want the same result as you or they can move on.
Avoid exhibiting negative behaviours yourself
Dogs, puppies especially, are famous for selective attention. They have a filter that blocks out constant talking or yelling of their name until they want to acknowledge it.
Likewise, humans have a way of filtering out the voice of a partner who nags, complains, whines or makes them feel negative emotions. It is like the sound of your voice becomes white noise and they no long respond to it.
The best way to prevent this is to try to keep upsetting exchanges short and clear, and afterwards immediately turn the conversation back to a more positive or interesting topic. That way your partner will not want to block you out as they will be genuinely interested in what you have to say.
Don’t let him see your fear
They say your puppy can sense your fear. This can make the puppy agitated, play up or even turn on you as the weakest member of the pack.
Applying the same psychology to your partner, it is imperative that you do not show fear of losing them.
The best way to reduce fear of abandonment, loss or rejection is to make sure that your sense of self comes from within and not from your partner. Focus on boosting your own self-esteem and confidence rather than becoming clingy and fearful around your partner.
Practice makes perfect
If at first you don’t succeed at creating a change in your partner then try again. The lessons you learn are about making changes in yourself and just like with the gym you need to keep applying positive action to help you progress forward to the relationship you want and desire. If the prize is worth the effort then keep applying the principles over and over again until you see lasting changes.
If all else fails, re-home him
In some instances it really is them not you in which case just like with any disobedient terror of a puppy who cannot be trained by you, rehoming is the best option. You really only have two choices that will result in lasting happiness, which is to be authentic and accepting or to walk away. Although it is terribly hard to let go, it might prove better for both. There is always someone else who will fall in love with that cute face and then your partner can become their problem, not yours.
Source: Daily Mail