Structure and Rules: Why They Make Your Dog a Better Companion, and Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD
I just read the most interesting article, and, as with EVERYTHING, I liken it to dog training (this particular habit drives my husband, and quite frankly others that know me, CRAZY!)
Yes, everything has something to do with dog training, in my mind.
So, a little more background on me, when I was in college I was a psychology major and working toward my bachelors when I found my true passion (dog training/psychology).
So there was an article in Psychology Today “Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD”
And, I found it absolutely fascinating!
A Break Down
In essence, the article talks about the differences between how Americans raise their children and how the French raise theirs.
And, the fact that 9% of American children are diagnosed and medicated for ADHD while only .5 % of French school aged children are diagnosed and medicated for the same disease.
In this country, USA, it seems that ADHD and ADD have taken over our country.
I am not going to get into the nutritional causes, or preservatives or additives, or allergens but I can tell you that structure plays a BIG role!
It states that French children are not allowed to snack throughout the day, they are given 4 meals a day. French children are expected to wait patiently for what they want and are allowed to cry themselves to sleep.
“French parents believe that hearing the word “no” rescues children from the “tyranny of their own desires.”
And I Might Add…
… technology in American homes is overabundant. Video games, phones or pads that play games, television, computers and the constant stimulation doesn’t help children to relax.
I remember when I was a kid just sitting down to read a book.
I now watch as my step children can’t sit still unless they are constantly stimulate, and sometimes they have to be stimulated by many things (talking on the phone while playing a hand-held game, with the TV on).
Any less stimulation causes them to pace and be irritable.
This constant stimulation, in my humble opinion, is not good for their development. And, I worry about their ability to hold down jobs and complete tasks that are considered “boring” because they can’t play games or be overstimulated.
I Think our Dogs Suffer from the Same Dilemmas!
If we constantly have the TV on, or the stereo, and loud kids or other people coming and going, our dogs get used to constant stimulation.
So when we leave them alone in the house with quiet… I think it’s pretty normal that it panics them!
This is why I recommend leaving the TV or stereo on for your dog when you leave (since there probably is no changing your lifestyle)!
Crazy environments for your dog, I think, also promote some ADHD-type behaviors, and increase his inability to settle down and just chill!
I think dogs mirror our behavior, and the crazier we are… the crazier they are!
If I want a calm dog, I also want a calm environment.
When I have to spend the day at a seminar, or with the kids running in and out and around, or in a basically LOUD environment… sometimes I just need a mental break to breathe and calm myself down.
Sometimes I just need to walk away and take a break.
I was raised reading books and sitting still in boring environments so being overstimulated to me is exhausting!
I think dogs need a mental break sometimes too!
How many of our dogs live a life of complete structure?
You wake at the same time, they eat at the same time, they get trained at the same time, you have actual RULES!
Too often, I believe people have no structure or rules when it comes to their dogs.
Even parents who were great parents and never let their kids get away with anything… let their dogs get away with MURDER!
Structure keeps your dog from being overstimulated. It gives your dog rules!
And, contrary to popular belief… dogs AND children (especially dogs) LIKE structure!
Dogs like knowing what will happen, and when, and having rules.
No One Likes Not Knowing What Will Happen…
For example, you tell your child…. “Don’t do that again Timmy or I am going to spank you..” but you don’t mean it and Timmy knows it.
So he does it 3 or 4 more times without getting into trouble.
But the next time he does the same thing, you back hand him for not listening. He doesn’t know when to believe you!
Sometimes it is the same at my house.
My husband will say “If you ask to go to McDonald’s one more time we are not going”. Then they ask 4 more times, but we end up going in the end.
So they are rewarded for ignoring his first statement and badgering him.
But, if he sticks to it the next time, they end up crying.
Who is at fault?
That is why structure is so important.
If I say something, I mean it, no matter what!
If I say “if you ask one more time we won’t go” I promise you if you ask one more time, we won’t go!
It is not fair otherwise!
Structure is crucial.
It allows the animal, or the child, to predict your behavior with 100% accuracy!
And, everyone deserves this kind of predictable behavior!
So if You Think You are Doing Your Dog a Favor, You are Not!
If you think that allowing your dog to get whatever he wants, whenever he wants it, is good for him, you are wrong.
He wants rules, he wants structure.
He wants to be able to predict how you will behave in certain situations.
This ability to predict makes him a good dog and makes his life simple.
And, who doesn’t need a more simple life?!?!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.