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?!?!

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  1. Pauline says:

    We have adopted a beautiful black dog ( maybe Heinz 57) . We have tried to break her habit of jumping up on us and visitors using her paws to try to bring us closer to her. She is very rough and really causes pain and at times bruises on my arms. She weighs 39 pounds. She is no way aggressive or mean. We have tried using the same words such as “down ” and “no” and I have even started using a paint stick to tap her feet but she just does it over and over as though she has no idea what I’m trying to convey to her. In many ways she is very smart but the problem is with me I am sure that I just don’t know how to get the message across to her. I am a senior citizen and so is my husband and we love her very much but just don’t know the right direction to go to change her behavior……we have been very close to taking her back to Little Victories but then change our minds and try again…SUGGESTIONS?


    Minette Reply:

    Read this

    I would not use pain or correction or she could become aggressive. Aggression incites aggression, so use the leash in the house and teach her what you want.


  2. Susan says:

    Having trouble potty training my sisters 8 year old dogs. They are good one or two days then go on rug again. Have used pads. But unless the pad is where they decide to go (on rug)😢 they don’t use them. And feel the pads are teaching them to go in the house.


    Minette Reply:

    you are correct, there are lots of free articles you can search to help with potty training and puppy pads.


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