Parenting vs. Dog Training

It is difficult being a Parent, especially since your child does not come with a manual.

Thankfully we have our parents, family, friends and our church to fall back on.  Right now I am attending a Sunday morning class for dads and dads to be.  We are going through a book called Better Dads, Stronger Sons by Rick Johnson.  He is a great writer and since I do not have a son, I will be starting his That’s my Girl: How a Father’s Love Protects and Empowers His Daughter.

Today our teacher was going over Chapter Seven, Discipline.  This is what I need to know about, how do you get your child to do what you ask and how do you teach them that if they do something they may get hurt doing it?  Well, we did not get through the whole lesson, so we will pick up where we left it next week.

One thing we did talk about, that I thought was really cool, was how so similar training a dog is to parenting your child.  An interesting fact about me I am a former dog trainer for PetSmart.  I went to training for two weeks, read some books, taught some classes and boom I was an accredited trainer.  (The picture below is my graduation day with my trainer.)

To hear the teacher compare the two I immediately agreed.  When I taught my classes I would explain to my PetParents that if you want your children to do something  you must be consistent, as if you want your dogs to do something, you MUST be consistent.  For instance, you want your dog to sit.  Start by using a small piece of food to lure your dog’s nose to point upward (toward the treat) and move the treat backwards over his head so that he naturally lowers his haunches to a sitting position. Don’t hold the treat too high or he may jump up for it.  Once your dog’s butt hits the floor say “YES” and give the treat, then say OK letting your dog know it is ok to get out of the sit.  You must do this for days to get the pattern down and make sure you get a good sit, it takes awhile, but sit is one of the easiest commands.

To teach your child to clean up you must show them the toys that are on the ground, pick it up and place them in the box.  You must show them how to do this every day AND give them praise for cleaning up, clapping, saying YAY, whatever it is make it fun.

Why do both of these work?  Have you heard of someone called B.F. Skinner?  He coined the term Operant Conditioning; a method of learning that occurs through rewards and punishments for behavior. Through operant conditioning, an association is made between a behavior and a consequence for that behavior.  If your dog or child is having a behavior that is not good, look for the reward they are getting and take the reward away which would be a punishment.  Once the dog or child is not getting the reward then the behavior will stop.

What is funny is that I searched for articles about parenting and dog training and found one on Modern Dog which lead me to one at the New York Times.  This article mainly talks about Cesar Millan teaching the role of the Alpha Dog, which I agree with, however I do not agree with some of  his tactics.

Do you see any similarities in dog training and parenting?  Please let me know below.


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