I never had a dog growing up. Well, I had one for about five minutes. My father brought home a white German shepherd puppy when I was about seven. My younger sister, she was four at the time, was deathly afraid of this white, puff-ball puppy. My parents had a decision to make. Keep the puppy or keep my sister. Now, that I’m thinking about it, my mother was probably the one who said keep my sister. My father might’ve wanted the dog, but that’s a blog post for another time.
Now that we have a puppy I had to learn what to do with him. (This goes to my OCD, controlling personality. Did I mention I’m Italian?) Our breeder recommended reading The Art of Raising a Puppy, by Monks of New Skete. Let me tell you what, all new parents of human babies should read this book too. In fact, any parent that isn’t sure how to discipline their child should read this book because children and puppies are the same. Don’t go getting your panties in an uproar because I’m comparing children to dogs. I’m speaking the truth.
In the book, the Monks talk about how important it is not to reward the puppy for whining. Let’ say you’re in the car and your puppy starts to whine because he doesn’t like going for a ride. If you pet him and tell him in a soothing voice it’s okay, what the dog really hears is “Keep whining. I get a lot of good rubs from that lady if I make this noise.” Do you know how many times I watched a parent give their child a cookie or soda to stop crying? They think it’s a distraction and let’s face it, no one wants to hear their child cry, but if you just told your kid he couldn’t get out of the stroller and he cries you can’t give him a cookie to make him be quiet. What does he hear? “If I cry then I get something I really like. I don’t remember why I was crying, but who cares? This lady keeps giving me sweets.” See? The same.
The book explains about dogs being pack animals and in that pack their is a hierarchy of who’s the alpha and who is the omega. The Monks say you must establish right away who’s the alpha in your pack once the puppy comes home. That would be the humans, in case you weren’t sure. If the human doesn’t show the puppy who’s alpha then the puppy will naturally claim that role, it’s their instincts, and now your puppy will push you around. Again, same rule applies to children. Parents often forget who’s in charge. Parenting isn’t a democracy and if your child doesn’t know who’s in charge, then they will be. And that’s bad news, friends. You don’t want your teenager in jail because you didn’t establish who was in charge when you brought her home. Don’t laugh. I’ve seen that exact scenario happen.
I’m surprised no one has written a book about parenting and paralleled puppy training to it. I guess in today’s society that would upset someone and no one is allowed to be upset so I apologize if I’ve upset you. But I’m not giving you any treats.