Dogs are smart
It’s funny how life gets so busy and as a parent, you have so much going on that you can barely remember the things you do while on autopilot. Wake up, brush your teeth, get kids up, feed the dog, get everyone ready to go out the door. The list of things that are all ingrained in your morning routine that you don’t think about is long. These little things are often taken for granted when it comes to communicating with the rest of the household. And in our house, the dog has been fed is the one autopilot item we can never remember if it was done or not.
Our dog is smart. He has figured this out. He knows that if he sits next to his food bowl and gives you big puppy dog eyes, you will instantly think that he has not been fed (breakfast, or dinner, or both…). And as we normally feed him on autopilot, we can never remember if he was indeed fed.
What is the Real Problem?
The problem isn’t that we are too busy to remember, or that we are on autopilot, or that we can’t delegate the task to the kids, or that our dog likes to trick us into giving him several extra meals a day. The problem is communication.
This may sound a bit weird, but that is the problem. We were failing at communicating this information with the whole house. Everyone needed to know, and remember, that the dog was fed.
We had tried multiple different solutions to solve this problem.
- Only one person was in charge of feeding the dog. This worked for a bit, but the dog still managed to trick the other person into feeding them. He would wait until it was just one adult in the kitchen area and start his routine. Thus, winning another free meal.
- We delegated this task of feeding the dog to the kids. If my kids were older, maybe it would have worked better, but we had to remind them every day. We also had to remember who did breakfast and who did lunch. And to boot, they would switch! Today someone did breakfast, but tomorrow they wanted to do dinner! Even then, they didn’t always remember if they did it!
- We took over the feeding again, but we would make a point to physically tell each other that we fed the dog. Even this would result in forgetting.
- We switched the feeding schedule to one meal per day. This lasted about a week before our hearts broke as we watched our dog sitting at his bowl waiting for food all day.
A Successful Solution - the dog has been fed!
So, after a lot of trial and error, we finally came upon a solution that works.
I made a simple flip sign for above the dog’s food bowl. When he gets breakfast you flip it over, and the same for dinner. At the end of the night, all signs get flipped back again and we start over.
This took some getting used to, but after we got into the routine of doing it, it worked very well.
Our dog, on the other hand, was not too happy about only getting 2 meals a day.
So, what's the point here?
So, you’ve read my wonderful story and seen one of my (hopefully) not cheesy crafting ideas, but the point is effective communication as a family. Out of the box ideas are always welcome, and in our house crafting solutions often seems to hit the nail on the head.
Life is a lot less stressful and a lot more enjoyable when you have effective communication. Sometimes it’s something as simple as communicating about having fed the dog and other times it can be something serious like picking the kids up from school or paying bills.
But in the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, if we don’t find effective ways to communicate, there will be more stress and less relaxation.
The funny thing about communication is that the message you send isn’t always the message that is being received, so finding a way to communicate that everyone understands is critical.
And now, aside for a slightly less happy and healthier dog, we are also able to communicate effectively.