Friday, January 06, 2006

Positive Dog Training for the Whole Family

About 3 years ago I gave up my job at a Fortune 500 company to work with dogs, mainly as a Dog Trainer. Not a day goes by that I don't silently thank the hubby for taking on more (okay all, dog training doesn't pay much) of the financial responsibility so that I could work in a field that I am passionate about. I love being a Dog Trainer. I honestly enjoy helping new dog owners live in harmony with their new puppies or older dogs that they have acquired. And if I get to squeeze and cuddle a few wiggly pups from time to time, so much the better.

Sometimes, though, my training techniques creep into my life in the strangest ways and they don't always have the desired results. The other day I put Julia down on the floor and then, without even thinking, I said "Sit" and "Stay" complete with hand signals. If you've ever taken your dog to training classes you know what I mean.

Did I really do what I think I just did?

Yep. I put the child in a sit/stay.

And she didn't listen, she took off crawling in the opposite direction.

I'm better with dogs. Honestly.

For instance, I could probably teach my dogs to write their names in the snow before I could consistently get the hubby to close a cabinet door, turn off a light or put something away when he's done with it. But I'm going to keep trying. He's already getting better about things. Part of the trick is catching him in the act and praising him when he does what I want him to do.

(Damn, he's probably reading this. There goes the element of surprise. Guess I'm going to have to up the treat ante!)

I plan on applying my training techniques to my parenting duties as well. Praise, reinforcement and the occasional treat. When someone in my family is moving in the wrong direction in life - redirect. Try to tone down the yelling and harsh words, they don't work anyway. Lots of loving touch, hugs and kisses. Clear boundaries and guidelines. Don't get me wrong, I know life isn't that clear cut and I know I'll stumble as I go along. But I'm optimistic and I'm going into this with a positive outlook. And, honestly, squeezing and cuddling a wiggling baby is just as satisfying as a puppy. Maybe more so... but don't tell my training buddies!


Lisa (the girls' moma) said...

"All I Ever Need to Know About Life I Learned from my Dog. Trainer."

I see how you might hope that sit/stay would work. If you figure it out, let me know. My 7-month old sweetie just pulled herself up to standing today.


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