winterhikeLast Sunday I went out hiking with the boys and the dogs. We had a great time and burned off some excess energy. The temperature was about 20 degrees and we had fresh fallen snow. It has been a warmer than usual winter so the ice was very thin. Before we parked the car I made a point to tell the boys, “Stay off the ice, it’s not safe.” The boys jumped out of the car and took off down the trail. Knowing my boys, I knew they would not venture too far, for fear of losing Dad and getting lost. My dogs hopped out of the car and were running around and jumping, very excited to sniff new odors and run in the snow. Both dog and boy were happy.

Raising children is a lot like raising dogs. You need to have clear communication, consequences, and reward the good behavior. Exercise is always a good thing too. A tired dog is a happy dog. Many unwanted dog behaviors; digging, chasing, barking chewing is due to boredom. Doing different things with your dogs stimulates their minds, which also tires the dog. People who train with me always comment how their dog was ready for a nap after our training session. That is because we made the dog think.

It’s the same with raising children. Finding different things to do with them will help stimulate their mind; roller skating, ice skating, hiking, sledding, bike riding, basketball and so on. A tired child is a happy child. Outdoor activities are great for dogs and kids. Reading and school work also helps tire them out as does training with dogs.

Training is nothing more than teaching the behavior wanted for a specific cue. If I back away from my dog I am telling them to come, go towards the dog I am telling them to back away. I have taught by dogs to get back, place, high five, play dead, quiet, heel, fetch and carry whatever I put in your mouth. Dogs with jobs are happier animals. Nothing is free in life and it’s the same way with my kids.

If you want a treat you better ask correctly; “May I have a treat please?” This successfully will get you a treat. “Give me a treat,” will get you nothing. When we are finished with dinner, “May I be excused please?” and they also pick up their plate and take it to the sink. There are rules; no jumping on the furniture, ask permission to play video games, be respectful to others, take your shoes off before entering the house and so on.

Dogs also have rules; no jumping, no biting, quiet on command, no counter surfing, walk on a loose leash, down, sit, come and place. As with children, dogs with no rules are annoying and no one wants to be around them. I once was working with a client who needed help with training her dog. The dog stayed with me a couple of weeks and then I had a lesson with her before she went home. She had her kids with her who were running around, disruptive and would not listen to their mother. Grandma happened to be waiting out in the car. I told Mom, either you take your kids out to the car with Grandma or I will. I had dogs in crates and the kids were sticking their fingers through the wire. It was to the point that they may be injured and Mom had no control. She ended up taking her children out to the car so we could finish our lesson. I also realized why the dog needed training. I often wondered if she continued with the consistency and rules we taught her dog.

Without rules, consistency and consequences dogs are not going to behave. They also need exercise to burn off their pent up energy. Training dogs is very similar to raising kids. They both need to be taught how to behave and be rewarded for good behavior. There also needs to be consequences when they misbehave. Dog training is all about patience, consistency, repetition, reward and consequences. When I see a child out of control and the parent trying to bargain for behavior I think to myself, “I hope they don’t own a dog”.

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