It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Training = Results

Indie is walking on a nice, loose leash about 70 – 80% of the time now, and has completely ceased with the Squirrel Dance.

Anna is now allowed to Let Go of the Stroller at certain points in our walks.

Indie will sit when adults walk through the door, or up and down the front steps, and wait to be invited before she proceeds. She’s not 100% yet, but she’s making steady progress.

Timmy, Anna, and Emily can spend a convivial 30 minutes in a coffee shop, staying in their chairs, chattering happily, and nary a flicker of tantrum or whining from any of them.

Indie comes when she’s called a little over half the time. We’re still working on this one.

Noah comes when he’s called about… oh… 5% of the time. We’re definitely still working on this one. I’m sure the leash is the reason the dog is doing better, but I guess I can’t… no, huh? Definitely not? Okay.

Want to have a kid? Train a puppy first. If you could live with one for six months to a year to try out this whole “nurturing” schtick, that would be helpful — but that’s NOT ETHICAL AND CRUEL TO PUPPIES, so I DON’T REALLY MEAN IT. But if you could? If, at the end of that time you have adjusted to the limits on your freedom, and if the puppy will sit when it’s told, stay there, come when it’s called and walk on a nice loose leash (not tugging your arm out of its socket), you’re ready for the greater challenge of a child. (Greater challenge. Puppies are not babies. Babies are way harder.)

But those puppy-training skills? They are transferrable!

Clear expectations.
Reinforcement — positive, negative, intermittent.

Puppies, toddlers, teens… Makes no difference. All the same skill set.

And for all? High expectations — reasonable, but high — consistency of response, and practice, practice, practice.

That’s why none of my toddlers bark, and the dog rarely whines.

October 22, 2008 - Posted by | behavioural stuff, Developmental stuff, manners, outings, socializing, the dog | , , , ,


  1. Okay, SOMEBODY’s going to leap onmy for this comment, but I have ALWAYS thought that.

    (And here comes the leaping part) And in the case of my VERY active son? Remember the Monks of New Skete? Every night, they load up a pick-up load of monks, each holding long ropes attached to one dog (so they can watch them) and run their dogs behind as the pick-up bounces through the apple orchard.
    There have been times when I’ve wanted….

    WHAT?!? It’s not like he’d be on pavement… (cough) Of course not.

    Exercise isgood for them, puppies and children alike. (Of course, it’s good for adults too: what’s with the truck, monks?)

    Comment by daysgoby | October 23, 2008 | Reply

  2. i have seen kids on leash in europe, so its not that bad an idea…

    and dogs are good for poop training too – if you wont drop the dog which poop on your new pretty dress, you are ready for a baby – period!

    I hadn’t thought of that. Well, then. See? So many ways in which a pup is a good “starter baby”…

    Comment by Suzi | October 23, 2008 | Reply

  3. I brought my children up as dogs – oh hang on, that doesn’t sound how I want it to mean. I agree with you, only I suspect I was never as consistent nor as patient with children or dogs, and I probably allow quite a lot of leeway for individualism, which can work better,as regards to discipline, with children than dogs. Anyway, you’re right!

    Thank you. I’m sure your puppies, er, children benefitted hugely. Now that some of them have begun producing their own offspring, are they also using puppy techniques?

    An aside. Have you ever managed to watch a group of 8-year-old boys playing (in some unstructured, adult-free way), and not thought, “Puppies. They’re just like a bunch of puppies.”? I certainly haven’t!

    Comment by Z | October 23, 2008 | Reply

  4. There’s a novel ‘The Accidental Mother’ where someone inherits her friends children and she uses a dog training book to get the kids to do what she wants. Worked for her!
    And really, consistency in anything – your own kids, kids you teach, dogs, cats, a diet plan, anyone – can’t be a bad thing!

    Oh, I am ABSOLUTELY checking that book out of the library! Thank you!

    Consistency. Never mind Emerson dissing it, it has a noble and worthy place in human character. Most of us could do with more! (including me…)

    Comment by Alison | October 23, 2008 | Reply

  5. You’re saying there’s a chance we could handle getting a puppy…hmmm. (I love dogs, miss having one, and would like to get one once Laurel’s potty trained. We’re getting close.)

    From what I’ve seen of your happy crew on your blog, I think you’d be terrific dog-owners, especially since you’ve owned dogs before — fewer suprises, smaller adjustment. (I’ve discovered I love my daily hour’s walk with the dog. It’s good for both of us!)

    Comment by mamacita tina | October 24, 2008 | Reply

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