Teaching Children Respect for Animals
I hate moving! It is one of those life experiences that I despise, the packing…the unpacking and starting life all over again in a new place. It is hard when you are a business owner and you have to reestablish yourself and your reputation!
When I first moved, I was more conscious about spending every last moment with my dog with cancer than I was about seeking work. Life is too short and sometimes needs to be spent in the arms, or paws of the ones we love!
But now that he is gone I am desperately trying to get on with my life and life as I once knew it…as “THE” dog trainer in town! Having run my own business for almost 2 decades I know the ins and outs of advertising and networking, but I believe it is word of mouth that helps propel you into a whole new league. So I offered my services pro bono for the opportunity to get to know people and get the word out!
As a dog trainer, my biggest pet peeve is when people threaten to get rid of their dog if training “doesn’t work”. I have learned through many years of experience, it doesn’t matter what you do for these people, most often they have already made the determination to get rid of their dog and all of my sadness, pain and work to keep them together is in vain.
I was emailed by such a person trying to take advantage to some degree of my generous offer. However, she wanted to make NO changes to her lifestyle and was also unwilling to come to me…I was expected to train her dog and her for free and travel 45 minutes to get there. She dared me by doubting my likelihood of success.
Although immediately irritated, I couldn’t let the life of a dog slip by without trying to assist her and her family in some way. This is an excerpt from her email to me:
He has a sweet and affectionate disposition. The reason that we aren’t keeping him is because of the kids. He has never growled or anything and he likes them, but he sees them as puppies, not as human leaders. Therefore, he tends to chase them when they run in the yard or, lately, will grab food out of their hands. We’ve come to realize that the kids just aren’t consistent with him- one minute they command, the next they egg him on- and that the energy level in the house just keeps him ramped up and moving around. It’s completely different when the kids aren’t here or after they’ve gone to bed at night- those times he’ll want a belly rub or something, but then he’ll settle down wherever you are and go to sleep.
I emailed her back in hopes that she would reconsider coming to me and again offered my services for free. How often have you seen a professional of almost 20 years offer their time and their services for absolutely no charge?
I explained that there must be consistency from the children for there to be success within their home. The children must be taught to respect and command the dog, teach and play with him in an appropriate way! This appropriate play and interaction would lead to him respecting and listening to the children, and inevitably he would stop chasing them and stealing their food.
She immediately shot back that there would be no change enforced with her children and she was unwilling to drive to me. Her children were not the problem! So I assured her that re-homing the dog was in HIS best interests if she was disinclined to make the children respect and treat him with kindness.
This made me wonder…What is going on with children and animals these days?
When I was a child, it didn’t matter whether we had a new kitten, puppy, hamster or newt (we loved our newts) we wanted to spend every waking moment holding petting and cooing to them. My sister and I often feigned illness in order to avoid church or school just to stay home with a new pet. I even remember sneaking our pet rat “Mozzle” into grocery stores in my pocket or hiding her in my hair. Admittedly now in my 30’s I feel the same, I am almost giddy when a new soul enters our family!
The love and respect for animals was impressed on me when I was a tiny girl. We were taught that animals “break” and to be careful in handling them, never to drop them or treat them with indifference. We were told that animals had feelings and should always be treated with unconditional love and kindness.
I remember when my sister and I were still quite petite and we liked “holding” our cats for too long, my mother would make us lift our hands and count SLOWLY to ten. If the cat remained we could continue holding it, but she would not allow us to force the animals to stay on us.
I think all children should be taught and raised this way!! Animals DO BREAK, they DO HAVE FEELINGS and they DO DESERVE RESPECT (and sometimes the free will to get down ha ha).
In my family when I was a child and now as a step mother, there are repercussions for not treating an animal fairly! My children must respect them and treat them with kindness at all times! If I catch them mistreating any of my critters, privileges are lost and punishment is instilled.
I will not tolerate animal cruelty from anyone in my life. They are like babies, they are sweet and kind and unable to stand up for themselves. It is up to us as adults to ensure that children are treating animals with compassion and benevolence.
So I stand by my assumption, the dog should go somewhere where the children treat him with love and respect and appreciation for who he is! He will be happier being respected and not taunted!
And, my hope in writing this is that I touch the hearts of the adults, the moms and dads and reaffirm the fact that children should be taught from a very young age to love and respect animals and to understand that they are fragile and that they have feelings! Animals are truly a gift and those of us that have them know how blessed we are to have them by our sides as we muddle through this life together!
* thanks to That Mutt for the picture!
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.