Raising dogs and children!
Thanks to the recent TV program Nigel Latta’s “The politically incorrect parenting show” I have discussed the similarities between raising children and raising dogs in almost every dog consult this past week.
As a full time dog trainer I often find myself talking to adults whose very own children are as we speak destroying the house – (knowing fine well that mum and dad are tied up with the dog training.) If only the children knew how the dog training was going to change their lives! After a short time explaining how to go about controlling the dog’s behavior I see the penny start to drop and then that famous line… “We should try this on the kids!”
Now for anyone asking what dog training methods have to do with raising children you only have to look as far as the recent show by Nigel Latta. So many parallels gave the show an almost uncanny connection to what I do – but then again we are all animals, right? Keen to avoid pain and seek pleasure, food, shelter and safety.
My dog training consultations usually start off with reminding people of the fact that you are living in a pack situation with your dog. Just like the family situation, it is the parents at the top who make the big decisions and bring much needed stability to the whole pack, (not every decision but the ones that matter).
In almost all of the houses that I visit the dogs think they are in charge. When they misbehave, the decisions obviously seem like the right ones to the dog, but are mistakes as far as we are concerned. At the crucial time they are not listening to the pack leader but are doing their own thing. It is a holistic approach to winning back control and there is no magic wand, it looks at the way we feed, walk, interact and look after the dog. Every single interaction you have with your dog is important in building trust and respect to the relationship. Sound familiar?
Part of the skill in parenting and dog training actually lies in knowing which decisions you should make and which ones to let go! Clearly letting your child chose the flavour of their ice-cream is fine but the colour of the new car may be a step too far.
I am no child psychologist but the children’s need for rules, boundaries and limitations are well known, and guess what – it’s the same with dogs! Showing consistency and calmness even in those difficult situations when all you want to do is scream can be difficult but is important.
Then there are those two oh so important words trust and respect. Both are required in any good relationship, be it between two humans or a dog and a human. If your dogs trust and respect you, then you are at a huge advantage when showing your dog the way. Sadly many people still see the physical punishment as the main way of training their dog and maybe a few rewards, but the truth is that hitting the dog is never necessary. When you understand the conflicting messages that you are giving your dog then you will start to understand the confusion that you are creating.
It is clearly far better to have your dog follow you out of choice not fear. There are leaders and then dictators, the people follow the orders of both but love one and despise the other.
So next time your dog seems to be doing something strange think about it. I can guarantee that in your dogs mind it makes perfect sense – They probably don’t see you as the person in charge and you simply can’t see their way of thinking.
If you could you would probably laugh at yourself and realize what I do every day……that often we humans are not quite as logical as we think we are !