dogs and kids

Dogs are not kids... But my dog training principles can be used with both

I know this might make some people feel strange. Especially since there are two different types of people. First off you have those who dress their dog up like making their labrador retreiver wear a firefighter outfit including the hat. I see them all the time and its cute but annoying. They have a hard time viewing their dog as an animal and not as a child. Then there is those on the other end. Those that punish their dog in a way that is inappropiate. For instance, there was a client who had taken me up on my free consultation (who doesn’t its free) and he wanted to stop his 11 week old puppy from barking. He knew that I had did e collar work and that I was a fan of the ecollar. He made a suggestion I would never make and thats to use the ecollar to stop the barking. I was disturbed. For 1 the puppy is to young and 2 the puppy does not understand what we are asking. I don’t teach with the ecollar I just reinforce already known behaviors.

It is clear that dogs and kids are not the same, but my way of training is not about whether it is a dog or child rather about how you love them. I don’t have a child but I can say I loved every dog I had with all my heart and I wanted to see them reach their full potential. A lot of things I learned through protection sports about building a confident dog( not to be confused with aggressive at everything that walks by). These are a few ideas that I keep in mind when I am training a dog.

Being fair

I always believe in being fair to the dog. This includes making sure the dog understands what I am asking before I assume he understands and gve the dog a correction. I see this so much with dog owners. They phrase “ he knew what he was doing” is one i hear a lot. But the question is how can we be sure if the dog understands. Most people assume and believe because they understand what they are asking quite easily then their dog should too. Potty training is an excellent example. The old put your dog’s nose in its crap and hit their nose with a newspaper after. This is old school training that some people still put to use. The idea is that the dog knew not to use the bathroom in the house but still did it. This is the exact moment when i start to ask the dog owners questions. How old is the puppy? Has he/she ever used the bathroom outside? What is the puppy’s schedule like? I will prowl until it comes out that its actually not the puppy’s fault. He was never taught how to be potty trained. Yes dog’s do have innate traits, but a lot of stuff has to be taught to the by their owner. Dogs who aren’t taught but are scolded will learn to sneak and poop somewhere and walk around with their head down, leaving you to know that they pooped somewhere in the house but you have to find it. I prefer to keep my dog honest.

The equviolent to this is a kid who is beatened or shamed for using the bathroom in their diaper instead of telling their parents they had to go. Usually the reason they dont tell their parents is because they scolded and shamed the child in the first place. Another example is when little boys are scared of the dark. Now I will talk about how i feel you should work through this later, but for now lets talk about the not being fair part. This is no knock to moms but I notice this with moms who try to make their sons tougher. The boy is screaming and crying and runs to mommy. The mom tells the son “ stop crying big boys dont cry”. What she probably meant was grown men don’t cry, which is probably sterotypically true. But that is a boy and not a man. It is unfair to place those expectations on him.

Reward and Punishment

This is the way you let a dog know that their choices matter and has consequences. If the dog does something good then you reward the dog with a treat ( play time, or the chance to bite a tug can also be a reward for some dogs). If a dog voluntarily does something I don’t like then a punishment is added as a consequence. This makes sense when you think about it. You wouldn’t do the opposite of rewarding bad behavior, but it happens. Neglect is also know as extinction. This means that if you ignore a behavior it will go away. This sounds simple and easy with dogs, but with humans it is different. That screaming baby that you have to ignore if they are doing for attention becomes so unbearable that you give in and give the child whatever they want. Or how about that little girl who wants to please daddy, but everytime he comes home from work he ignores her. This can make her less likely to continue this behavior and give up. The moral of the story is that kids, like dogs need to know that their choices matter. That 35 year old drunk who wrecks his parents car for the 15th millionth time never learned that his choices matter. He was probably reward( giving the car) for his bad behavior(drinking and driving).

Working through something to make the dog or child more confident

As I mentioned earlier I learned a lot of this stuff through protection work. In protection work you want a confident dog that is not afraid of anything yet has impulse control. So how would I handle the little boy who is afraid of the dark? If he starts screaming and crying I would work through it with him. I will be his coach. I will go back in the room with him and sit there until he falls asleep. I will build his confidence and tell him he has nothing to fear. How about the child who pooped in their diaper? I would explain to them to let me know when they have to go. I would not shame them or scold them as best as I could ( none of us are perfect). How would I be fair to a kid and a dog? SImple I will explain the rules and teach them the rules. If you break the rules their are consequences, but I will also reward good behavior like getting a 100 on a test or standing up to a bully. And if the kid is afraid I will WORK THROUGH IT WITH THEM!!!!