“There are many parallels between training dogs and raising children.”
I was reminded of this wisdom as my grown daughters have married and brought “fur babies” into their homes, both as puppies and as a slightly older rescue. The clarity and consistency of instruction that is required to make a dog feel safe, secure, loved, and well-behaved are often the same as required by young children, and for the very same reason.
When we feel safe and loved and our basic needs are met, we are able to perform to our highest potential.
Each dog has had its own individual needs and behaviors and as a mom of grown children, it has been fascinating to me to see our daughters applying many of the strategies and principles we used with them as they were maturing into toddlers.
- Lots of love and affection. Keep in mind, each child has his or her own love language and it is your job to figure out what it is and use it so that they are able to interpret and internalize the love you are expressing.
- Clear rules and boundaries. If you can’t explain it in a simple sentence, then don’t use it with your toddler. You don’t have to explain things to dogs, but it is difficult to remember rules that don’t have inherent logic, so why put yourself through that pointless mental exercise?
- Consequences. Express them simply, then apply them in a consistent manner. Children and dogs are all about precedent, so once you bend or break a rule, it is twice as hard to ever enforce again.
- Rewards. Yeah, this is the good part! Catch them doing something right and reinforce it with rewards. It works with dogs to train them and with kids to teach them a fundamental rule of life and society… Every action and decision they will ever make will have consequences, whether good or bad, and the good ones are more fun.
- Adequate levels of activity. Dogs and kids need to play to expend physical energy, promote good growth and socialization, and you get to share in the joy of their exuberant celebration of life. Both species suffer when there is not enough play in their daily routines.
- Realistic expectations. Believe it or not, this one often ties back to #5 in a big way. Whether you are dealing with a child or a dog, stress, pent-up energy, or over-stimulation will never make either easy to deal with and you need to be the parent or owner who anticipates, prepares, and then reacts fairly when difficulties arise.
You will think of many more parallels, and I hope you use them to your advantage so that the babies in your life, whether furry or not, grow to be confident, socially adept, and capable of loving you back as much as you love them!