A Shih Tzu’s take on Brain-based Coaching


April is Counseling Awareness Month!
and I can tell you all about how great coaching works

Guest blogger: TinkerToy

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Coaching Series

People coaches and dog coaches have a lot in common

And so do their clients! We all like treats and fun and attaboys — and we all hate the nasty voice!

Some coaches do that tough-love thing, but Mom doesn’t believe that the nasty voice ever works.  It just makes us too scared to keep trying.  She doesn’t even do the nasty voice when she tells me no.

And we all LOVE it when we can suddenly do something we never could before — it’s just that the things that 4-legses and 2-legses figure out how to do are different.

Mom coaches over the phone and I hang out in her office and listen in. She says the only reason I’m allowed to stay around and eavesdrop is because I can’t tell anybody except other dogs.  They don’t care anyway – they don’t even know these 2-legses.

But I’ve learned a LOT about 2-legs coaching that way, and Mom decided to let me tell you some of her coaching secrets (besides fun and laughing – there’s always a lot of that when she coaches).

FIRST you have to be ready, willing and able

Even the coaches who don’t know the first thing about how the brain works say that, but I don’t know why any coaches put it that way – kinda’ dumb if you ask me. What makes more sense is able first, then ready, and willing last of all!

When I was hardly bigger than my mom’s two fists I wasn’t able to do a lot of things I can do now easy-peasey.

Even once I got a little bigger, my tiny brain was still learning about things like eating crunchy food and running.

It took a while for my brain to be ready before it could even think about being willing to learn to do more – like where it was okay to go to the bathroom, and tricks for treats.

Not that babies are looking for coaching – that would be silly – but when grown up two-legses are sick, or in the middle of something they don’t need help with, or recovering from an operation, they might not be ABLE to add coaching to what they have to manage right then.

My Mom wants me to be sure to add that anybody who’s an active addict will never be able until they are clean and sober for at least a year and working a program. 

She says that first they have to be available for change, with a mind that’s not cloudy or thinking about drugs and stuff.

Next you have to be ready

The time has to be right and you have to make room in your days.

  • I’m never ready when I’m really sleepy, for example, not even to play some of my favorite games.
  • I’m not ready when other dogs are around either.  We all  have to have private time with our coach to be able concentrate on what were up to.
  • And I’m never ever gonna’ to be ready to cut back on my time with my fans at my Cheers bar (where everybody knows my name), even for all the best treats in the world!

Some of my mom’s earliest clients didn’t seem to be ready to make room in their schedules at all — not even for all of their appointments over the phone.

They kept missing them over and over – or calling to say that something had come up, like it was the very first time instead of mostly.

They kept themselves too busy to have time to even think about coaching tricks during the week, or do even the simplest coaching homework – like making a list of their challenges or something – and they weren’t ready to say no to something old  to make room for something new.

They just weren’t ready period, no matter how much they said they wanted their lives to be easier and better.

Poor Mom had to tell them to come back when they were ready. Even when she first started out and really needed the money, she never kept coaching anybody she couldn’t help.

Like CATS, for example – most cats don’t want to be ready.
They practically dare you to try to make a difference with them.

Different Rates

Mom does whatever she can to make coaching affordable for most anybody who really wants it, but she gives me the family discount (meaning free, since I don’t have any way to get money anyhow I barter with kisses).

But sometimes 2-legses haven’t made room in their budgets for their coaching fees – or else they spent the money they set aside on something they suddenly decided they simply had to have.

That meant they couldn’t keep coaching long enough for things to turn around in their lives (even for group coaching, which doesn’t cost as much as coaching with Mom privately).

That’s another way you have to be ready – for about six months for most 2-legses, according to Mom – which sounds long but really isn’t when you consider that your whole life can be more fun after you pick up a few new tricks.

Anyway, you can keep coaching for as long as you want once you know the basic tricks – even years for some of her clients.  There’s always more to learn, and she really helps 2-legses get things done from week to week, so life moves forward easier and faster.

Last but not least you have to be willing

Mom says that mostly means it has to be your own idea.  It won’t work if you’re doing it because somebody else decided it would be good for you, for example – or threatened you into it.  You probably wouldn’t let it work – like those cats.

Dog clients don’t have to worry about the next part, but 2 legses also have to be willing to tell the truth to their coach, even if that means they have to be willing to feel a little embarrassed sometimes (like when I get caught tearing up paper, for example – whenever it tempts me the room is covered in confetti before I can stop myself).

And you have to be willing to keep getting back on the horse – even though I don’t know if you have to actually be able to ride a horse to be able to get a coach.

I don’t think so, but I’m not really sure about that part.  You can ask my mom before you sign up for it, anyway.

The fun starts once you decide you are able, ready and willing!

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