Parallels Between Dog Training and Parenting

I always wanted to have four or five children, so although three of my five are of the fur variety, I have indeed been "mom" to five "children". 

Two years ago we lost our 14 year old border collie to a sudden illness. She was our first baby before we had our own human babies. Our second fur baby, a mini aussie, and her overlapped for nine months. Two months ago we decided to rescue a 1.5 year old aussie/ border collie mix. 

This time around my 12 year old daughter is taking the newest addition through dog training class. I sit in to observe. When we get home she fills the rest of the family in on what we need to be working on with him. 

I've pondered this thought before, but this time around as an observer of my daughter doing more of the training, I'm able to see even more parallels between dog training and parenting. 

The following are some of the similarities:

  1. Both thrive when they know who's in charge. 
    • Dogs and children have an uneasy, chaotic sense about them and sometimes even aggressive tendencies when there's uncertainty with this and when they are put in the position of being the alpa to those that should be the alpha to them. 
  2. Both need consistency.
    • If there isn't consistency, dogs and children will find loop holes whether it's subconscious or not. 
  3. Both need adequate exercise.
    • When dogs and children have had an appropriate amount of physical activity their negative behaviors tend to subside. 
  4. Certain words need to be non-negotiable with both. 
    • This could mean the difference between life and death. Some of these words include: "stop", "come", "stay", and "wait". 
  5. Both know if someone doesn't like them, are confused about what to do with them, are negative more than positive with them and are easily flustered by them. 
    • It's worth it for the "caregiver" to acknowledge if she has these feelings and seek guidance on how to address them. 
  6. Challenging behaviors won't magically improve for either without some level of dealing with the behaviors. 
    • My husband and I have sought the help of professionals to help us navigate different behaviors we were stumped by with both our children and dogs. Ignoring that there's a problem or talking ourselves into thinking the behaviors aren't so bad, won't make the behaviors improve. In fact, most of the time the behaviors will only get worse. Dogs and children both grow and the older they are the harder it is to "un teach" or "reteach" them to act differently. 
  7. Both require a lot of our time. 
    • Dogs and children thrive on having your time. 
  8. Both want to be loved and tend to love so freely! 
    • That look you get from the children (especially when they're little) and the dogs when you walk in the door from being gone all day is amazing. They love us to the core, no matter what. They want us to love them just as deeply. 

I will admit I'm a much better parent than I am dog owner. Sometimes I simply can't resist their innocent furry faces with their ears down and bottoms wagging. I allow them to get away with far more than I would ever allow my human children to get away with. I can rationalize this to some extent because the future of my dogs' lives is much different than my children's. I need to think long term (10-15 years) for my dogs, but for my children I need to think really long term (20-60 years or more). My human children will also interact with far more people in the world than my fur children ever will. The expectations in their lifetime will, with no doubt, fully exceed the expectations my fur children will ever have. Despite these rationalizations, I know the dedication we give both towards time and teachings will always be worth it to them and to us.