Thursday, September 18, 2008

Training kids or dogs - not a lot of difference

I just finished reading an article about the epidemic of doctors prescribing behavior modifying drugs for children - babies, even.

The article went on to say that changes in diet would probably be more beneficial to the children than prescription drugs, which could cause irreparable harm to their bodies.

But then it mentioned something people don't talk about much - discipline. And I was struck by the similarities between raising a pleasant child and raising a pleasant canine companion.

Check out this advice:

Count to three and then place the child in “timeout.” (Our Pepper used to get put in the kennel for an hour after he tried to chase passing cars.)

Also, let your child know the rules, and what the consequences are for not following them. If your child fails to clean his room for example, let him know that he’ll be placed in timeout and won’t be able to play with his toys for the rest of the day.
(Can't quite link that one to dogs - but they do care a lot about approval and need to know immediately when their behavior is not what you expect from them. Consequences could just be being sent to go lay down in the corner.)

Even more important, follow through and be consistent with what you say you are going to do. By the same token, don’t forget to reward exceptionally good behaviors.
(This one definitely relates - being consistent with what is or is not acceptable is of absolute importance. And reward is a major motivator for dogs as well as children.)

Nurturing -- Paying attention to your child, giving him/her responsibilities, and building his self-esteem is another key to eliminating behavior problems.
(Giving your dog a job to do - be it retrieving a ball or helping to herd the cattle or jumping through a tire, or letting you know when a stranger approaches - is always a good thing. Everyone needs a job and feels good when they contribute!)

And of course - plenty of appropriate praise is always a key. Treats are good - but some dogs don't care about them and would rather you tossed a ball.

My Mom told me to raise my kids so that other people could also love them. I did, and they do. I try to raise my dogs the same way, and so far it's working. Everyone who comes to our house speaks first to my dogs -

Yours for happy canines!

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