Accepting Positive Feedback and Listening to You

We need feedback from others to learn something well. We especially depend on feedback in social situations to know what to do. There is no way around the fact that you need to give feedback as a Trainer. A pup will find it difficult to judge his own pup behaviour, not knowing if he is behaving appropriately or not, without your telling him how he is doing. The pup depends on his Owner and Trainers feedback to really see himself clearly as a pup. You are the eyes and ears to his self esteem, and a pup will use your feedback to adjust his behaviour and become the pup he should be.  

Although you will need to be critical at times, most of your feedback will be positive. The best rule to follow is a three for one principle. For every one criticism you give, you make sure you give three compliments.  Positive feedback is a more effective tool for communication than criticism and is the best way to help a pup improve his performance and learn new things.

It may strike you as strange, but many people find it hard to accept compliments. The positive feedback they receive gets cast aside, often because the person has a low self image and the good things you are saying don't fit with this bad image they have of themselves. The negative self image pup will negate positive feedback, sometimes even becoming suspicious of your motives for giving the compliment. This self pity and projecting is a problem you can overcome and bypass, but beware engaging with the negative self esteem. You don't want to be sucked into the emotional vortex of a self pitying pup. Deflecting or avoiding your positive feedback will affect your mood and your participation in pup play. No one likes having their opinions rejected. As a Trainer, your opinion matters and you must be taken seriously, Deal with this matter promptly when your positive feedback is not being accepted. There is only one method and it isn't open for negotiation. This is the way it is. 

Explain calmly to your pup that negating or not accepting your positive feedback is a problem in training, It can make you, his trainer, feel awkward, frustrated, uncomfortable, even stupid. You feel worse after your positive statements are rejected rather than better. So pup has to simply accept compliments and positive feedback from you. A simple "thank you" with a smile, or an "Arf" is the proper and appropriate response. 

The key point to get across to your pup is that your compliments are to "gifts" to be accepted. They aren't to be treated like bombs that need defusing, nor are they footballs needing to be passed on. Positive feedback can be tossed in the rubbish bin in any number of ways, and you need to be alert for it as a trainer. Listed below are the familiar standards you may have encountered already.


Pup ignores your compliment altogether, pretending that it was not heard.

You: "that hood looks good on you pup" 
Pup: "did you want me to lick your boots Sir?"

Or your positive feedback may not be recognised as the compliment it is

You: "I'd like you to walk ahead of all the pups in first place" for me pup
Pup: "Don't you want me as a sub pup any more Sir?"


Pup voids the positive feedback by contradicting you

You: "you look good pup"
Pup: "No I don't, I look terrible"


Pup will argue with you to show you that the complimentary feedback you gave was misplaced

You: "you did that activity really well pup"
Pup: "nah, I wasn't very good Sir. My timing was off"


Pup will joke with you, failing to fully receive  the compliment in the way it was meant. 

You; "listen pup, I really appreciate you were dedicated and changed your schedule to be here today"
Pup: "oh right, like I had anything better to do Sir"

Self Insult

Pup may try to balance the positive feedback with self imposed insults

You: "you did great at those postures pup"

Pup: "I guess it wasn't too bad for a fat guy"


Pup questions your judgement

You: " You sounded great just then pup"
Pup: "why would you think that Sir? You must be deaf Sir"


Pup accepts a smaller version of the compliment than was intended

You: "you look fantastic pup"
Pup: "it's the hood you gave me Sir"


Pup quickly returns the positive feedback without taking time to accept it

You: "you were great tonight pup"
Pup: "you are great every night Sir. I am so lucky to be yours"

It is important to not let the positive feedback you give be avoided or reduced. Ever.