Parenting, in some ways, can be compared to training a dog.
(Before you judge me for comparing raising children to training an animal, know that the comparison comes from a good place in my heart. I love my children and I love animals, particularly dogs.)
I used to be a dog trainer. Although it has been almost a decade since I’ve professionally trained a dog, I am grateful for the experience, because it’s sure come in handy with my children. Now that I’m responsible for two wild little humans, I’m noticing how training a dog could be as frustrating — and exciting — as raising a child.
How, you may ask? Allow me to explain.
1. Repetition, repetition, repetition
How many times do you think it takes saying “sit” to a dog before it registers? So many times that it made me wonder if the dogs were hearing-impaired. The same thing happens with my children. I feel like a broken record, and I know I’m not alone here. Be assured that you aren’t the only one repeating yourself in requesting your children to stop jumping on the bed. Now you know that parents and dog trainers are right there with you.
2. Consistent rules
Consistency is not to be confused with repetition, because simply repeating a command to a dog — or a request to a child — doesn’t necessarily amount to being consistent. Consistency means using the same methods of discipline, day in and day out, to show your dog or child that this is the way things are done and/or handled. Always. With your child, that might look like requiring that she always brush her teeth before you read a bedtime story, no matter what, while, with a dog, it may be that you do not open the door to go for a walk until your pup is sitting calmly. It can be tricky to follow through every time, but consistency helps establish growth — and, let’s be honest, it also really sets you up for future success, so doing the hard work now is something that you will thank yourself for in the future.
3. Potty training celebration
Okay, this one is a little more tongue in cheek, but there are definite similarities here. All dog trainers and parents want their dogs and children to know when and where to go to the bathroom, right? I know that the moment my children were officially potty trained, I was doing the happy dance — no more diapers, and no more accidents when their tushies were feeling the freshness of the air! (Okay, occasionally there were — but far fewer.) The same went for when my dogs no longer soiled my carpets — clean floors and I got to take a break from watching them like a hawk. Yes!
With the help of repetition and consistency, you will be successful with your parenting methods, I assure you. Of course, there are other elements that go into successfully raising children, but if you implement repeating positive words to your children and being consistent with your methods of discipline, you’ll have a solid foundation to raise your children … and raise a dog.
Are there any other similarities between training a dog and raising a child that you can think of? —Jasmin