Learn from the K9 – The art of problem solving


Coco has a positive attitude, right approach, etc. Also, she as a loving family, plenty of toys, good nutritious meals, visits to the vet when she is not well, et al. But I realise that her life is good because of her perspective and attitude towards life and the challenges that she faces as a sole dog in a house filled with humans.
Vatsala Shukla and Coco
We all have problems in our everyday lives. Some are small ones that are dealt with easily so that they don’t appear to be problems and some are of greater magnitude that require us to use our problem solving skills. Wise Coco understands that it comes down to approach.
My canine friend Coco knows inherently that there are no problems, only solutions and she deals with issues quite differently than we humans do. If there is a puddle of water on the morning walk path – no issue – she just looks at it and changes the direction of her walk slightly to avoid getting her paws wet and continues. She knows the art of problem solving – without having read any self-help or management books!
A dog approaches a problem with an open mind and engages in possibility thinking. As humans, many of us approach it with annoyance and a negative attitude, thinking of it as a hindrance rather than an opportunity to learn and grow. We set ourselves up for failure even before we begin.
When Coco’s ball rolls under the sofa, she gets excited and tries various options to retrieve the ball. Each time this happens, she finds new ways to solve her dilemma. She is persistent. As a human, we most probably get frustrated if we cannot solve an issue immediately and look for easy short-cut solutions rather than looking at the big picture.
Problem solving is not only a valuable skill; it is also an art and Coco has taught me that the following subset of skills that are required as translated for the human mind:

  • The first skill is creative thinking. You can call it thinking out of the box. The ideas will flow if you engage your imagination during a brainstorming session.
  • The second step is to check each option for sound reasoning and weed out unachievable options. Like a canine, be objective in your approach.
  • The third and most important step is to approach each problem that you encounter with an open mind and positive attitude. That is the only way you will not only find solutions but better ones that work.

Things to learn from dogs
There are many things which we can learn from dogs. First of all is ‘friendship’, which has measurable health benefits and dogs generally practice it more than humans. Living in the moment is yet another important lesson we must learn from our furry companions. Unlike we humans, dogs usually don’t play hard to get – when they love us, they just show it. Then when it comes to playing, we must take a cue from our dogs who enhance intelligence, creativity, problem-solving and social skills through various playful activities which have no major purposes other than sheer funs.
Outdoor activities are always an idea of bliss for the furry companions. Well, a hike in the wood is a blissful idea of a dog. But it lends plenty of benefits to humans, in terms of enriching both mind and body. Another excellent attribute of a dog is ‘body language’ in which furry buddies are excellent at reading each other’s intent through traits and we must learn it from them.