Many dog owners believe raising a dog is similar to raising a child. Therefore, when I hear an owner mentioning this subject about training issues, I always ask them to clarify their specific methods for handling human baby behaviors. In most instances, puppies are not allowed the same considerations and latitudes we let our kids. So does having good human parental skills make a dog owner a better dog raiser?
When you give birth to a baby and bring them home from the hospital, that baby requires 24-hour continuous care. The baby pees and poops and has to be changed. A feed schedule is necessary, and a cuddling constant is a must for the baby to accept touch.
Caring, intelligent parents understand the need to teach their infants to love and trust. So when an owner brings a pup home, in the best-case scenario, this baby dog will have had all the nurturing experience they initially need from the mother dog. If she has done her job, the pup’s mom and the breeder have given the puppy an open mind and a trusting attitude.
However, because behavior issues come to dogs at different times as they mature, the challenge for dog owners is to recognize the need for a pup’s behavioral management in a way that won’t prohibit their curiosity and ability to make good decisions on their own.
This fact works for kids too! So we can acknowledge that there are similarities in raising dogs and humans. The difference is pretty stark, though, when it comes to discipline. For example, the human parent can be legally incarcerated if harsh physical force is used to correct a child’s behavioral problems. Pets don’t have that kind of protection in many areas.
Since dogs develop and mature physically and metabolically much faster than humans, they quickly experience adolescence. This is when pups need to learn social boundaries and the consequences of bad choices.
Here is where it gets interesting. Training through positive reinforcement can teach a dog social correctness quicker than a human adolescent. If we could hold a treat above our teenaged kid’s heads and say sit or stay or even listen and have them immediately respond well, that would be super, but that is not going to happen.
Conversely, dogs learn to manipulate their owner at a younger age than human kids. This could be the dog’s advanced maturity. We know that every body movement you and your dog exhibit to one another is information more salient than any human yelling or dog barking combined. Dogs learn to read their owners quickly and well. For dogs, interactions with their owners are necessary to fulfill their survival needs. So they know the certain body, head, and eye movements in a language they can understand. We, as owners, do learn to interpret our dog’s language and comply. It makes living with a dog easier.
Is that a dog’s genius form of communication? Or manipulation? It is, my dear friends, the application of manipulation! My friend Brenda Aloff says that women are more easily manipulated by their dogs than men. When I asked a couple of my psychologist friends, they told me that women probably are more influenced by their dogs, and men are more inclined to be swayed by their kids, especially their daughters. However, dogs jump into 1st place for manipulation if they don’t have kids. Especially if they’re female dogs (imagine that!)
So if our dogs and kids take advantage of us occasionally (probably daily), research shows that we don’t seem to mind. We love them anyway! Maybe it’s because it’s the way we’ve raised them. Yep, I concede. We’ve made them who they are, and I’m glad.
Give your dogs and kids a hug for me!