Thursday, October 28, 2010

Don't put that in your mouth

A few years ago a handful of guys and I were visiting with Rick Smith at a convention and the talk naturally centered on trainers and training methods.  Someone mentioned Paul Long and I remember one of the guys saying, "Paul Long has helped me train 15 bird dogs and 4 kids".  Laughs all around and the conversation moved on but I never forgot that line.  At the time I had no kids and really only appreciated it on the surface, but now that I've spawned a brace of my own it's been like peeling back the layers of an onion - every time I turn around I'm reminded of that line.
Somewhere I read that the average mature dog is on roughly the same intellectual level as a two year old human, certain considerations given. No doubt a professor got a huge grant to study this so there's bound to be tons of science behind it.  Still, the average parent and dog owner could come to roughly the same conclusion over time, so it's no wonder that Paul Long's disciple had success on both fronts.

Around my house I know better than to make any comparisons at all between child-rearing and dog training.  But the internets ain't where I live and I don't think my wife reads this blog anyway, so here are a few things I can verify are true for each side:
  • Yelling doesn't do much good when they don't understand you
  • Punishment doesn't do much good if they don't know what they were supposed to do in the first place
  • Repetition, repetition, repetition (especially when it comes to manners)
  • You can't get around potty training
  • Don't try to teach it until they're ready for it.  You'll know when the light comes on and it's time to move forward.
  • Too much talk can be counterproductive.  Keep it simple.
  • Praise even the smallest victories
  • The older they get, the more the game turns mental
  • Patience is not a virtue, it is the virtue

And then there are the strange similarities between kids and dogs....
  • Both are somehow genetically programmed to look you right in the eye and do exactly what you just told them not to.  I know they didn't learn this from me.
  • The more you wish for quiet, the louder they get
  • When they are quiet, something's up 
  • They never break their stuff, only your stuff
  • Wherever they are when they finish playing with something is right where it belongs 
  • They have no clue how to contain their happiness
  • There truly is nothing they won't put in their mouths


    1. Mark, I don't know where you got this... you must have had some sort of revelation, I swear it's true though. My mother used to have me on a checkcord so she could keep me under control while she was 'training' me. Really.

    2. I could work wonders on my kids with an e-collar but I'm note sure society is quite ready for that yet. A check cord on the other hand....

    3. Mark:

      Great post.. and all funny but true! We don't have kids either, but certainly everything you're saying applies to the dogs we have.