What the World Would Be Like If We Treated Our Children Like We Treat Our Dogs

Dogs and Kids are Actually a lot Alike!


What would the world be like if we treated our children like we treated or dogs, or we treated our dogs like we treat our children?  Pause for a minute and think about it, it is an interesting notion.

First of all, how many of us expect our dogs to listen, but have never taken them to school?  Dogs need just as much “school” and training as a child should have perhaps even more since they have more of an ability to be aggressive!

I have come under some fire lately due to my dislike of physical and forceful training methods.  We are a “hands off” dog training program after all, so it shouldn’t surprise you that I don’t indulge in the use of prong, choke, or shock collars and that I like Karen Pryor .

Although shock collars are technically “hands off” I don’t think it really counts 😉

Now, I will agree with the naysayers that everyone that uses these “training collars” is not abusive and under a very few circumstances they may be warranted, but in most cases I think they are overused and used because people are too lazy to teach their dog good foundation obedience.

The Physical Force, Punishment, and Compulsion Parent

Spanking Doesn't Work Well on Kids Either

Imagine for a moment that we put shock collars on our kids, or that the teachers at school have the ability to use them on your children.  Trouble makers or loud children (those who are mentally challenged or not) must accept a shock when the teacher thinks they are out of line.  I know there are some days teachers would sign up for this! 😉

I am thinking this would bring parents and the community to outrage.

And, it actually got one parent arrested!

So why then, is it okay for our four legged family members to be exposed to this kind of training?  At least our human children understand the principle of consequences and we know that they can understand what we want and what we don’t.  I don’t think our dogs really do know what our expectations of them are prior to this kind of treatment.  There is often a lack of “teaching and understanding”.

Don’t Believe Them…


People say, it doesn’t hurt…it is just a reminder for the dog to listen.  Hmmm I have seen the videos on You Tube where people put a shock collar on their leg and let their friends shock them, and I am no expert but I am pretty sure I see the look of pain fairly often.  Now imagine strapping these collars to your neck.  Would it hurt?

Would you go to a foreign country where you don’t understand the language or the body language, give your “captors” a collar and then want them to teach you something with it?

If it was acceptable to use these on kids, I am just assuming that it would work on some children.  They would learn to be quiet and follow the teacher’s instructions fearing the use of the collar otherwise.  But I am guessing on some of the more obstinate children it would make them more hostile and angry and possibly aggressive if they thought they were stronger than the teacher.

This is the same with dogs.  Some of them are easily emotionally broken and compliance is achieved however for some this type of stimulation makes them worse and more apt to fight.

Ignoring Problems Doesn't Work Either!

The Laissez-faire Parent

This is the parent that lets their child do anything.  Let a 7 year old stay up till 2 a.m., sure why not?

Let your kids eat cake for dinner and breakfast, absolutely.

Punish your child for hitting the neighbor kid or stealing a stereo?   Nah, let kids be kids.

There are parents like this and there are plenty of dog owners like this.  Positive reinforcement is not synonymous with permissive.

You don’t have to put up with all of the bad behaviors, and dogs need rules and consistency in order to be a joy to live with as pets!

And “punishment” does not mean you have to use physical force.

For the sake of argument and the fact that this is one aspect where children and dogs differ punishment doesn’t usually work on dogs.  Typically what we think of as punishment comes after a behavior and is often inconsistent; so it is difficult for a dog to understand.

Children can be spoken to and reasoned with so although punishment is usually not the best way to transform a behavior in a child either, it can work because you can tell the child WHY he is being punished and expect him to understand.

Punishment for a dog can be the extinguishing of the game you are playing or revoking his access to you for a moment or two as long as it happens immediately after or while he is making a mistake.  You can’t continue to play a few more times and then try to explain to him WHY you finally decided to stop.

My dogs feel like they are going to DIE if I ask them to do something while we are training, they refuse and so we go inside and immediately stop the game.  This negative punishment (because I am taking something away from them) happens immediately with the refusal of the behavior not AFTER a period of time; teaches them that if they want interaction and a game they have to listen.

I once had a client whose dog didn’t want to share her affections with her husband.  I had her take the dog away from her presence and affection immediately when he showed this behavior.  Because what he wanted was his mom’s affection the loss of that was distressing to him so he learned that he could share more easily than lose her affections completely for a short time.

Positive Reinforcement, Operant Conditioning and Classical Conditioning are the way to

Positive Reinforcement and Love is What We all Want!

your children’s and dog’s heart

Everyone wants to hear when they are doing a good job.

To ignore the good behavior and only focus on the bad behavior is a sad way to learn!

Dogs are animals that want to please!  If you don’t believe that last statement try training a cat!  So if you reward the good behaviors that they are already showing they then have the opportunity to choose that behavior more often.

Positive reinforcement is my favorite way to learn a new skill.

Sure, I might make a mistake and I have no problem if someone points that mistake out, as long as they help me and praise me when I do something right!

This is the same way I try to raise my step children.  I will praise you for a job well done, help you do what I want you to do, and if you don’t I will take away a privilege or something you value.

I don’t need shock collars, prong collars or physical force!  And, I am consistent so my animals and my children know when I say something I mean it!

Consistency is crucial, without we end up with confused animals and children with no true knowledge of consequences or the ability to foresee.

The point: you don’t need to use physical force or harsh methods, but ignoring behavior problems and mistakes is not the way to go either!  Use positive reinforcement to reward the good behavior and help your dog or puppy to correct or reshape the bad behaviors!

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One Comment

  1. I credit my three grown sons with making me the positive-reinforcement trainer that I am today! I learned early on that reinforcing behaviors I wanted repeated and NOT reinforcing behaviors I disliked worked beautifully on children. I always had well-behaved, happy boys. When they grew up, I turned this passion for teaching behavior first to horses and now to dogs, and have never looked back!


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