I’m a dog trainer.
I am also a mother.
Before I had children I would tsk to myself when I watched parents trying to handle their out-of-control children in public.
I saw what those parents were doing wrong, because my dog training clients were always doing the same things.
I would find myself mentally lecturing them, telling them, “don’t repeat the command! Enforce it!” or “you need to practice your ‘stay’ exercises!”
After all, I know that the average dog has the intelligence of an 18 month old child. If it works on a dog, wouldn’t it work on a toddler?
Then I had a son of my own.
Anyone who has tried to raise an colicky, emotional, outspoken, extroverted, active baby boy knows how hard it is.
Those who haven’t… cannot possibly imagine.
It didn’t help that I was an only child, and this was my first born, so I had zero experience with young children.
I turned to books.
How do I get him to sleep? How do I potty train him? How do I teach him to stop hitting me?
The literature on these subjects is enormous, and each book contradicts the other.
Then, one day, I met with a new potential dog training client. He was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, and seriously considering giving up his new puppy. He was exhausted. He hadn’t slept. He hadn’t been able to convince his puppy to use his potty patch outside. He was at his wits end.
He reminded me of me.
But in his case, I knew what to do.
As I took him through the steps to potty training his puppy and getting a good night’s sleep, I began to wonder why I wasn’t taking my own advice. Were were puppies and toddlers really all that different?
So, I went home and potty trained my son in three days.
Over time I have applied many of my dog training tactics to training my son. Street safety. Waiting for meals. Holding my hand while walking instead of diving off into the crowd.
He’s not fully trained yet. After all, he’s just a puppy. And human puppies take, like, 18 years to reach adulthood.
So I have a long road ahead of me.
On the way, I’ll pass on the tips and tricks that have worked so well for my dog training clients… and then for me, as a mother.