6/22/10

How training a puppy and training a girl are similar

Okay, I know all you Mom's out there just cringed. How can that mean, cruel man speak of his darling, precious little girl the same as a dog. I'm not saying that. Not thinking of them the same at all, except that when we got them both, neither one was housebroke. Neither one understood the word "no". Neither one knew any commands. I'm just saying there have been similarities between them. Just sayin'. Not saying they're exactly alike. Exactly.

I was thinking of all this at 6am when I was walking the dog. Sydney tried to break her to the leash. And, she had no success. Then, the puppy pulled the leash out of Sydney's (undoubtedly limp) hand, trying to rush her back home, and ran out in front of a car. And, Sydney hasn't tried to walk her since.

But, we can't take the dog anywhere until we teach her about the leash. And, we can't teach her about the leash until we take her somewhere. So, I decided to take her on my morning walks around the neighborhood. The neighbor saw us starting off that first day and wasted no time telling me that I would never teach that dog to walk. And, for about 20 minutes, I wondered if she was right. So, how did I teach her to walk on the leash? The same way we taught Sydney to live with us.

First, we started out spoiling them. Low expectations. And, both lived down to them.

Then, we inflicted an iron rule on them both. Rules. Commands. Okay, so one has learned "go wash the dishes" and the other has learned "heel", but they're both commands. With the puppy, I held the leash clinched in my fist and showed her what I wanted her to do, occasionally lifting her off the ground by her underchest harness until she got the hang of it. With Sydney, it was consequences, like having to rewash the same set of dirty dishes over and over until she finally understood that clean meant squeaky, not greasy.

Then, there were rewards. Okay, so it's more expensive to give a pre-teen girl treats than it is to push a piece of kibble under a dog's nose, but treats work the same way for both: 1) you do what I want, 2) I tell you you're a good girl, and 3) I give you a little something to let you know I appreciate it. Like nail polish. Or costume jewelry. Or a yogurt flavored chewy treat. (you decide who got what).

And, finally, we have compliance. Now, it took one of them two weeks and the other two years to understand compliance. But, whatever. So long as we get compliance before it's time to apply for a driver's license, it's all good.

Right after we got Sydney, we read somewhere that the secret to training a dog was exercise, discipline and reward. Hey, they don't bother me if they're tired and happy. Or locked in their room. Over the years, we've followed that, so we're in good practice for actually training a dog. Good thing we had the girl to practice on.

Take care and have a great Tuesday. Lane

12 comments:

Rhoda said...

You make me laugh, Lane! You're absolutely right, however.

lesthook said...

I agree totally,LOL!

Coloradolady said...

Super!!!! And yes, I think kids and puppies are one in the same, and dealing with them likewise!!

Shirleymac said...

You're right Lane. There's apparently a new game on Facebook that I heard about on the news last night, but haven't found yet. It's a lifestyle game. You're given tasks like go for a walk and then you're given a reward. Or eat a sandwich made with whole wheat bread, and you're given a reward. It's how we learn to make healthy choices. And it's been proven people playing this game will start to exercise more and eat better. Training a dog and training a child (or adult for that matter) are the same using the consequence and reward system. You're very intuitive and you're right on.

Becky said...

How true my friend!! Great analogy.....and glad you have experienced success at both!

JKP said...

Having had two kids and multiple dogs...I agree there are definite similarities. The difference? Dogs have an inherent need to please. Children have an inherent need to be independent. The similarities? Both want their needs to be met within the bounds of unconditional love. It sounds like you have that mastered.

Sunshine said...

Hi Lane,

once again made me smile - multiple times ;) I like that you thought ahead and mentioned the underchest harness before people starting bashing you for animal cruelty and choking of puppies by the collar ;)

2 weeks vs 2 years, hmm... This must be where JKP's comment comes in with dogs wanting love and kids wanting independence.

Now about the dishes, that really made me chuckle... my recently-ex-boyfriend of 32 years has not grasped the concept of WHY we wash dishes, i.e. to get the old food and grease off. I gave up after 3 years of trying - wonder if I should have rewarded more... I thought that at 32, he's kind of past that stage.

Thanks for the piece of wisdom. I'm still undecided whether I'd rather have a dog or a kid - or neither (or both? AAaah) *grins*

lw said...

This reminds me of a Sandra Dee movie where her mother presents her with a dog training manual and reveals that it's been her secret to a long and happy marriage to the girl's father.

I'm glad the dog is walking better on the leash.

Crispy said...

Just be glad she's a girl, most boys that don't have that trainable gene LOL.

Crispy

Michelle said...

LOL! I guess there's hope for the dog then. ;-)

Elizabeth said...

You really got thrown in the deep end with Sydney. But even when you get them when they are little, sometimes you wonder where did that attitude come from? and they need a bit of [re] training. Keep it up. It will be totally worth it when she has kid of her own dishing out to her just like she's dishing out to you now. In the meantime, JKP had the best suggestion -- unconditional love.

Quilting in My Pyjamas said...

I work with kids...and sometimes I wish your analogy could actually be considered best practice in my work somedays.Totally agree with JKP.

You're doing a fabulous job with that beautiful daughter of yours. It's paying off - there are challenges to come, but you're all doing fine.

P.S. I would like to point out that being a kid expert does not make me a dog expert. Our dogs are pretty badly behaved. So is my kid actually....