I have attended exactly two puppy obedience classes, and I can honestly say I recommend them for all parents of human children. Learning how to train my Whoodle has taught me at least three things I am doing wrong with my real kids.
- I tell them to do something too many times before I give the final warning that proceeds consequence. I have taught my children to tune out my voice and discount my instructions. The dog trainer says to give a command ONCE. Now, I will admit that it is easier with a puppy than with people. With my six pound Whoodle, if she doesn’t obey on the first command, I can pick her up and make her do it. With my 98 pound daughter that just doesn’t work. Plus, depending on the situation, social services might disapprove of coercive handling of my pre-teen. But now that I am aware of the situation, I am re-thinking my approach with the kids.
- In my human family, I am not the Alpha Dog. I am in charge, but the children know that when I am distracted they can do what they want even if technically it is against my rules. Often I become aware of the transgression when my distraction passes, but then I feel that it is my fault I got distracted, so I let them get away with it. They are 8 and 12 – they know the rules and even if I am distracted they need to follow them. I am working on developing my inner Alpha Dog. I am mommy, hear me howl!
- Treats are great, but physical affection and true-eye-contact attention are just as important! It is easy to cuddle my tiny Whoodle and rub her little belly. When my kids were small, it was wonderful fun to snuggle with my daughter and let her style my hair. It was a pleasure to wrestle with my son on the carpet. Now, we are so busy and my daughter looks so much like an adult person that I forget to snuggle with her on the sofa before bedtime or on Sunday morning. When I try to wrestle with my very large and physically powerful 8-year-old I get hurt. But even if I don’t have time for snuggles or want the injuries that occur from wrestling, I can listen. I can hear them. I can stop washing the dishes and look them in the eye when they are talking to me. I can ask them more questions and learn more about what fascinating people they are. I can make sure to hug them every day.
So I guess I can thank my Whoodle for helping make me a better parent to the two humans I birthed.