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You Only Run Out of Options If you Run Out Of Questions

September 11, 20212 min read

You might have read my blog in February about my new puppy, Abby. I shared that the Choice Map was helping me through puppy training (probably a unique application of the Choice Map!). Well, it’s almost October and the training continues. As you can see from the photo, Abby is all grown up. And as you would expect, there is good news and “not yet good news” with her.

I’m happy to report that Ed and I are doing quite well at staying in Learner (and recovering quickly from Judger) with Abby. We also haven’t let Judger creep into our relationship about such things as feeding and cleaning up after her.All in all, we’re very happy with her. The sweetest times are snuggling on the sofa with her in the evening (after Abby has thankfully exhausted herself by running around all day). The most amusing times are watching her chase butterflies and bees, which she seems to think is her mission in life (it’s less amusing when she chases and barks at passing cars and runners). 

There is however, one specific area where both of us have gotten very Judger with Abby. It turns out that Border Collies are diggers. That means they are genetically predisposed to dig holes. Abby, showing off her genetic proclivities, has been digging holes (deep enough for a human to break an ankle) all around our property.

We’ve been subscribing to the dog training philosophy of the New Skete Monks, which is simple: Dogs learn good behavior by being rewarded for doing well. This makes sense and is actually very Learner. But how do you reward a dog for not digging holes? 

Here’s the latest bright idea to get Abby to stop digging. My husband was so determined to stop this behavior that he went online to discover what would work and came across the supposed miracle of Cayenne Pepper.He purchased 5 pounds of it (that’s a LOT of Cayenne Pepper) and triumphantly spread it lavishly around her favorite hole. Guess what happened. She loved it and licked it allup! For the moment it was funny, but I actually went very Judger in the sense of feeling defeated.

This is quite a conundrum. You can’t reason with dogs. You probably know that if you blow up at them, they’ll just get mad at you or scared of you and that won’t change anything.While Abbydoes give me plenty of opportunities to practice switching, that won’t change her behavior. These holes are actually dangerous.

Then I remembered one of my favorite Switching questions, “How else can I think of this?” Really, feeling defeated won’t help me find effective solutions. I have to persist. You only run out of options if you run out of questions. One thing the Choice Map reminds me of all the time is that staying mostly in Learner takes commitment and persistence. Cayenne Pepper didn’t work, but something else will. 

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2023 Inquiry Institute

2023 Inquiry Institute