The Parallels Between Puppy Training and Parenting

By Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Meg, as virtually everyone knows, got a dog three months ago-she has also lost her mind. Her and Hank are about to graduate from “puppy school.” That’s how she talks about it, “we” are doing this, and “we” just did that; it’s akin to a couple announcing “they’re pregnant”.  Meg, from the very beginning would come home and say: “Leigh, I think puppy school would really help you parent.” She then would regale me with a synopsis of what techniques they are working on, and how I could utilize them in my daily parenting. Here’s an example:

Me: Meg, Hank is at the door, he wants in.

Meg: Ok Wait. No Leigh, do not let him in until he’s showing “four on the floor”.

Me: What? Oh my god – you sound like a knob.

Meg: I am not responding to him until he has all his paws on the floor, get it, four on the floor?

Me: So I’m supposed to go around telling Freya two on the tarmac?

Meg: I’m sorry Leigh that you do not have the discipline to go the distance with your kid “training”. Admit it, two on the tarmac could change your life.

I got her in action, this is just the tip of the iceberg. You must understand this is at my house, she does not reserve this type of training to the confines of her own home. She will “work” with Hank anywhere.

Below are the lessons Meg is working on with Hank that she feels would be most beneficial to me as a parent:

  1. Consistancy. Both dogs and children thrive on it. Oops. Maybe I can make amends with my children by doing it with Hank?
  2. Positive reinforcement. Ignore the bad, praise the positive. So much easier said than done, with both animals and kids.
  3. Redirect. If your puppy is eating your slipper, don’t say “no, bad dog”, rather give him a chew toy.
  4. Four on the floor. When the girls are hanging off of me like marsupials I must ignore it and turn away from them until two are on the tarmac.
The other day in the car, Hank started to climb into the front seat, ending up right on my lap. His self-awareness issues are not something Meg is addressing at this stage of the training. I can’t wait for him to try that to her at 115 pounds. Obviously Meg didn’t scold his behaviour, instead she got out of the car and starting taking pictures.
I hate to admit this, but there might be merit to what Meg is suggesting. Perhaps I could benefit from puppy school. Perhaps, the fundamental principles to which Meg is “training” Hank with could have made my life easier. It is too late for me, you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. However, it is wrong if I start suggesting to soon-to-be-parents to attend puppy school?

Cheers, cheers,


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