Over Christmas break Ms. Laura and Ms. Shellie both got new puppies. Welcome Opal (an eight week boxer and border collie mix) and Claude ( an eight month border collie and retriever mix).
As you may know, we got a new puppy at our house last Christmas. Rudy is now a 1-year-old cavapoo (king Charles spaniel and poodle mix). So I could speak with first-hand knowledge about the year of puppyhood!
We’ve been talking puppy training and I realized how many similarities there are to raising young children. (I hope that doesn’t offend anyone. :/) Here are some areas that may ring true for you too.
They want to know you are in control.
Have you ever been in charge of something that you weren’t truly comfortable with or you didn’t exactly know what you were doing? You probably went through the motions but were on edge. You also may not have handled changes, etc. with as much grace as you typically do. Pups (and kids) are the same way. While it may seem strict, no fun, and/or demanding to make your requests as true statements, it truly helps others know what is expected. “It’s time for bed” rather than “Are you ready for bed?” Your voice will also dictate how secure others feel with having you in control. A clear (authoritative – while not angry) voice will present yourself as the one “who’s got this!”
Consistency, Consistency, Consistency is a key ingredient.
If you ask for a behavior once, you need to expect the same behavior every future time. Actually, you can probably relate to this too. It is so much more pleasant (and comfortable) to work under a boss that sets clear expectations and is consistent with those.
Offer an appropriate option for inappropriate behaviors.
Puppies love to (and need to) chew on things. All three of us with new pups have a plethora of toys available for alternative chewing, chasing, etc.
I recently talked with a mom about this very thing. Her two boys were wanting to climb on furniture and wrestle with each other. Instead of totally banning the behaviors we talked about more acceptable ways they could meet these needs. Perhaps a pile of couch cushions would work for climbing and tumbling. Wrestling can only be done in the family room when the furniture is safely pushed back, etc. If there is a behavior you are repeatedly correcting then I suggest you think about an alternative you can live with.
Give your attention.
Many professionals talk about the need for exercise and attention for your pets to behave their best. This is also the same for your kids. Giving your child intentional time for play and attention will often lead to them being able to play more successfully on their own. With my own kids I would even call attention to the fact that I was playing with them, “I love playing games with you.”
They need to play outside.
We’ve talked about this before but there is something innately beneficial about playing outside. This feeds our basic nature. EVERYONE benefits from lots of outside play and exploration.
Another similarity is that these strategies won’t prevent every misbehavior.
But hopefully they will help with most situations. 🙂