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Best in show

I’ll tell you about dolphins and dogs. You’ll have to work out the people bit for yourself.

Many years ago I went to Marine World and watched as dolphins and killer whales jumped through hoops. Leaving aside the moral debate of whether these awesome creatures should be doing this kind of stuff, I was mesmerized by the fact that every time they did something good, they were rewarded with a fish.

So, lesson one: how do you train a dolphin? Thrash him with a stick and shout very loudly? Nope, feed him a fish.

Moving on to dogs. When I went to training classes with my first mutt, I was taught that dominance was the key to obedience. Without it, you couldn’t have a good relationship with your dog. The general rule at that time was, “Be hard on your dog. They’ll not respect you otherwise. They’ll only do what you want if you show them who’s boss.”

Really? Common sense and a half-decent grasp of humanity told me that wasn’t the best way to treat man’s best friend? I’ve never half-strangled my best friend with a metal chain if she walked ahead of me, pinned her to the floor if she didn’t agree with my point of view or rubbed her nose in her own poo.

Thankfully, I found a better way.

Lesson two: if you become the best you possible, dogs are happier, relaxed, trust your decisions, and willingly choose to co-operate with you. Even in circumstances way beyond their comprehension, such as the hustle and bustle of the world’s largest dog show.

As for people? Like I said, I reckon you’ll work it out for yourself?

Jo Armstrong

(Jo delivers The Art of Being Brilliant in schools and communities as well as being in charge of our social media stuff. Her dog also happens to be a Crufts winner! We’d like to make it absolutely clear that, presently, she doesn’t own any dolphins)

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