I recently got myself a puppy. That’s a picture of Zeus. At first I was not sure what was I thinking. My eldest son had given me the idea when I was in France having a melt down about being lonely and all of that jazz. He had suggested getting a dog as a companion. Turns out he was right but not without a fight. I had all of my adult life resisted getting a puppy because of the nightmare of the house breaking chewing up your stuff stage which I understood could go on for quite a while. When I was young mother I couldn’t stand the idea of dealing with raising a dog while knee-deep into raising 3 children plus the occasional step child. When the children were small and begged for a dog we adopted adult dogs, well-behaved house broken dogs.
Getting a puppy was a hard sell even now, as we headed to the shelter, I am not getting a puppy, I said…
until I saw his face.
Hmmm, maybe I could do this, she says. For crying out loud!
I fell in love with him at first sight, of course! But he was just a puppy. I am not training a puppy, I said. I was afraid and way to Virgo to deal with the constant threat of dog doo in my home. But he was exactly the breed I wanted and as my son reminded me training a dog doesn’t last forever and then you have the kind of dog you want. He told me not to be afraid of training the dog. Afraid, me afraid…
I brought him home and I became hyper vigilant and got no sleep for about a week. In my virgo-ness I trained that dog quick. Smartie that he is. Turned out He was way more interested in doing what made me happy than doing what mad me mad.
…And he learned making me wash the same rug over and over again was making me pretty mad.
After fast tract training him to hold his piss which he does, I was reminded of my own hard-core approach to dealing with my kids when they were small. There were 3 of them , Nick was 4 when Natalie was born and almost 5 when Trevor was born. I raised my kids to be self-sufficient early. I had to, they are a little close together in age and me with only 2 arms. I worked hard in those early years ruling with an iron fist to keep them in line and out of trouble. I taught them to be independent. The more independent they were the more freedom I had to do chores, take care of homework, take a bath. I was young with 3 little people counting on me. The way we got along in the world was a reflection of the effort I put in to my kids to make it work.
Just like with my puppy. I brought him home to be a part of my family. I want my dog to behave and act a certain way so I have to put the time into teaching him what I want from him and establishing for him what I will give in return. Because I am also his caretaker he will learn what I will do when he mis-behaves and how that differs from when he behaves well. All the training I do now is to get the results I want when he is much bigger, potentially much bigger!
I think training a dog to be well-behaved involves some basic child rearing principles that when followed breeds loyalty and good manners in a dog and wonderful children, sounds horrible I know but stay with me. For example establish authority over your children (in a respectable way) from the time they are small and keep it, children are not your friends and both our animals and children need to know who the leader of the pack is. Offer and give consistent discipline and advice developing mutual respect. Always meet your dependents needs. When you take care of someone they learn to trust you. Never to the best of your abilities make them suffer for lack of; food and shelter, or safety and guidance, or most importantly affection and love. I think following these guidelines with anything that is dependent on you will breed into them the desire to do their best for you.
Paying the kind of attention to your children, partners or animals that it takes to establish the kind of relationship you want is just the foundation of the work it takes to foster any good relationship. Putting in the time be it 3 weeks to 18 years to establish a right relationship with a loved one or a cherished pet will be the best time you will have ever spent.
It’s all about the training days as I pull a shoe out of the dogs mouth, scream at him about chasing the cats, feel my heart melt when he runs to me. That’s my Zeus.