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Do you love your dogs like your children?

Positive Dog Training or Tree hugging ... or good old fashioned common sense?

Many dog  "experts"  give a  wry and rather patronizing smile when loving dog owners say that they treat their dogs like children.
Why?
Assuming they do not carry them around in handbags, dye them pink, or dress them in silly costumes (and do parents really do this with their children?), what is wrong with considering your dog as a surrogate child, and you as a surrogate parent?

Personally, we brought up our children to be respectful of themselves and others, to learn (and keep within),  sensible boundaries, to accept that discipline both self, and sometimes imposed, was necessary to thrive and fit in with their world, but we also strove to create the trusting and secure bond which would enable them to feel safe in coming to us with anything which confused or frightened them.

We took time and trouble to explain how they should behave , why it was  always better to learn how to  live with respect for their environment and the creatures, human and animal, which inhabit it, than to be disrespectful, aggressive, and  ill-mannered - and we did his by showing them in a kind and patient way, and more importantly showing by example - not "Do as I say - not as I do"
.  
We tried not to shout, become angry or punish for doing something wrong when they had only done wrong because they had not yet learned what was the right way. 
 I'm not saying that we always got it right, but we tried!

They were given a relaxed home life - we expected them to do their best in all situations, but gave them no unrealistic goals which would stress them out.

There was always guidance, but also encouragement for independent thought, but in  situations where they were out of their depth we expected them to look to us and immediately follow our directions without question.

So they were respectful of others,  but encouraged to make their own good decisions - no waiting always to be told what to do, unless from a teacher (!), none of the learned helplessness which is the result of a regimented lifestyle, where every action is directed and controlled, but also we did not subscribe to the over-tolerant attitude which creates a longing  for boundaries in children.

So, can anyone tell me what is wrong with applying these guidelines to dogs, to start with what you know to help you with what you don't? 
  
Of course you need to do your homework before getting a dog - to understand the major differences in the way they think and react, and to give the signals which a dog will understand, but you will find that the more you learn about dogs, the more the similarities to human responses and reactions  (especially  in very young children) emerge.

If we are considered so stupid as to be unable to identify the differences between canines and humans so that we blur the boundaries to the detriment of both, should we really be in charge of either?

Everyone was once a child, so even if you do not have children of your own, you at least know how you felt when you WERE one, and that often you felt powerless and at the mercy of adults who did not understand you.

A dog with an uncaring, dominating, or ignorant owner  who never shows in the way a dog understands what he DOES  want but always punishes when he gets it wrong, always feels like this.

 Try to remember how you felt as a child when you were asked to do something beyond your understanding, and the adult became more and more impatient.  I'm betting that it made you panic-stricken and very unhappy.

Don't you think that this mindset  is as good a starting point as any to create a bond of friendship and trust with your dog.

So, tree-hugging -  or common sense for positive dog training?



POSTED BY: LESLEY HARRIS, DOG BEHAVIORAL EXPERT SOUTHAMPTON
FEBRUARY 22ND, 2015 @ 16:27:55 UTC

 
 


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