What Kind of Teenager Were You?
In my family, there are three kids and we were each very different. I was the Saint. I always chose to behave to avoid getting into trouble. My sister was Sneaky. She would do things, but cover them up to avoid trouble. My brother was the challenger. He honestly didn’t care about mom’s wrath (not that she was all that bad). We each had our own way of responding to potential punishment. Parents don’t mean for their children to learn to be sneaky, spiteful, and they surely don’t want to have a child be good for fear that they might get in trouble. They want their children to behave because they taught them well. They want them to behave to gain great privileges in life. And here’s the big one, they want them to behave because it makes them feel loved and respected (what many adult children eventually realize and hope to deliver).
What does this have to do with dogs?
Dogs are smart. They figure things out quickly and it’s why punishment often times has unintended consequences. Now, I’m not going to tell you that your dog is sneaky, challenging you for the role of pack leader, or being a saint because of the use of punishment. I’m just wanting you to understand that punishment has unintended consequences no matter the learner. Yes, punishment often leads to a dog sneaking off to go potty somewhere else in the house, because they learned it upsets you when they potty inside. Yes, punishment can lead a dog to appear to be challenging you when in reality they are just scared to death and defending themselves (which I’d like to state can spill into many unrelated areas). Yes, punishment can stop behavior all together or ensure compliance to avoid punishment making your dog appear to be a saint.
The Good News
[su_pullquote]“The way to a dog’s heart is thru his senses.”[/su_pullquote] Just like our parents, or those of us with human children, we pet parents want our pets to behave because they love and respect us. Too much of the time we expect them to come pre-programmed this way. But just like human children and uh-um husbands, we have to teach them what we would like them to do and guide them lovingly away from the things we don’t want them to do. You’ve heard the expression, the way to a man’s heart is thru his stomach. Well, the way to a dog’s heart is thru his senses. When we teach what we want with positive reinforcement and take time to explore the world with our dog doing things he enjoys, we ultimately gain a dog that behaves because he wants to “please us.”