What Off Leash Dogs Can Teach Us About Communication

Asking for feedback is a tool for communication growth.

What Off Leash Dogs Can Teach Us About Communication

I am very lucky to have multiple non-romantic life mates who influence me to be a better person each day. One such Lifemate told me a story today:

She said that this morning she was running with her dog, Chester. Chester was recently attacked by an off leash dog, and had multiple complications in his healing process. Unsurprisingly, this has caused Lifemate and Chester a lot of stress, and they have been going tentatively into their runs, taking caution to go during less popular times.

Lifemate, the ever-prepared woman that she is, also got dog mace. Dog mace is a tool to deter dogs, but it won't actually do them any harm.

Back to the run today: the two are jogging along, and not one, but two off leash dogs start approaching them. Lifemate can see the owner, and asked the owner to please come and get the dogs.

The owner did not rush, and Lifemate and Chester were starting to get backed into a corner. Lifemate said loudly but firmly, "I do not want to use dog mace on your dogs, but I will if they come any closer." At that moment, the owner moved into a run and grabbed the two dogs by their harnesses.

Lifemate and Chester continued their walk, doing their due diligence to process the adrenaline after such a close encounter again.

Now, here is where we learn our lesson:

As Lifemate and Chester were about to head home, the owner was waiting for them near the entrance of the trail. Lifemate was concerned, but it was the only way out, so they forged ahead.

The owner stopped Lifemate and immediately apologized. She gave some context as to why they were off leash, not trying to excuse her behavior but to make sense of it. She said that it must have been really stressful, and she wanted Lifemate to know that it would not happen again.

As far as an apology goes, it was pretty great. However, this still is not the lesson.

My amazing Lifemate then said, "This might seem odd, but would you provide me with feedback on how I responded. I really never want to mace another dog, but I also want others to understand the boundary that off leash dogs can cross."


As my Lifemate told me this story, she gave me some credit for teaching her about the importance of asking for feedback. I was surprised and delighted because - while I appreciated the shout out - she thought to ask for feedback from a complete stranger on her communication so she can get better at it next time.

Ugh. I am beaming writing this.

Feedback is something many people shy away from due to concerns that they will feel slighted or simply because they do not want to have to look in the mirror at their behavior to change it. It is a risk to ask anyone how to improve because it shows us the ways in which we have not been our best.

However, feedback is an incredible tool for education and growth. If you can set your ego aside, you can have real conversations on how you can be better and then get better outcomes.

So I challenge you this week to ask someone for feedback. It can be a partner, work buddy, or random interaction. Then, let me know how it goes!

If you are like nahhhh - I will be talking more about how to ask for feedback in the Education Session next week for paid members. If you have not yet, please join! It is wildly affordable and supports this little communication education endeavor - sign up below. Thank you!

In curiosity,

Dr. S. Kay Webb