Street Training: Because, You Know… SAFETY.

Roads are DANGEROUS, yo.

Over a million dogs are killed by cars in the U.S. each year, and cars are also one of the leading causes of death in children, with thousands being struck each year.

That’s why I always, always recommend street training your children and puppies.

I’m always surprised by how many people people DON’T street train.

Freedom is beautiful... except where it could end with a SPLAT

Freedom is beautiful… except where it could end with a SPLAT

Oh, I’m pretty sure every sane parent tells their kid not to run into the road, but I don’t think the rules are consistent, because they still seem to do it.

I see both dogs and small children joyously straying into the road on walks, while owners/parents panic (or don’t, which seems even stranger to me).

It’s worth the effort, trust me.

How To Street Train Your Puppy Toddler

Continue reading

Advertisements

Coming When Called

A solid recall is one of the most basic and yet also one of the most vital aspects of obedience.

If your dog doesn’t come when you call, then chances are he won’t do much else you tell him to do, either. A dog who doesn’t come when called is saying “there are more interesting things out here than you” and “I don’t think you mean that”. If your dog isn’t thrilled to approach you and doesn’t assume you mean what you say, you’re doomed.

I think it goes double for children.

A strong recall is not only a good sign of how much control you really have over your beloved dependent, but it is also incredibly vital to safety.

You might be calling your dog because he has decided to chase a bear. You might be calling your toddler for the same reason.

And while you’re trying to convince your puppy/toddler that the bear is NOT, in fact, Winnie The Pooh, you’re going to be desperately wishing you had worked on a solid recall.

So, now’s the time.

Three things drive a good recall – a strong history of reward, a lot of encouragement, and giving the impression that there is no choice in the matter.

How To Train Your Puppy Toddler To Come When Called

Continue reading

3 Reasons To Raise an Obedient Toddler

“Obedience” sounds awful in the context of parenting, doesn’t it?

At least, to the North American ear it does. We want our kids to be free to discover themselves, to think for themselves, to feel loved and valued.

“Obedience” makes us think of stern 1950s style fathers holding belts in a threatening manner, or Von Trapp family style repression of all things joyful.

You vill obey me and you vill be miserable about it!

You vill obey me and you vill be miserable about it!

But in dog training, obedience is pretty standard. Everyone wants an obedient dog.

In fact, stern dog trainers like Cesar Millan have built multi-million dollar businesses around teaching people to physically and mentally dominate their dogs.

I have always wondered why people seem to value letting their kids act like drunken yahoos, but then worship a dog trainer who often kicks, strangles and otherwise bullies dogs into submission.

Be assured that when I talk about obedience, I’m not thinking of applying any of that crap to our children.

I wouldn’t even apply that to a dog.

Obedience is not about cowing the spirit out of someone.

It isn’t about using special choking equipment or punishing them for simply doing what comes naturally to them.

Reasonable dog trainers mean this when they talk of obedience training:

Von trapp better

Much happier. Still obedient.

  • Setting high but reasonable expectations.
  • Maintaining firm but loving boundaries.
  • Rewarding appropriate behaviour.
  • NOT rewarding inappropriate behaviour.

Not only can obedience be achieved without any whistles, forced marching, or grim frowns, but it should be achieved if you want your toddler to become a tolerable human being who wins the Nobel Prize and can afford a really swanky old age home for you some day.

Three Reasons Why Obedience Can Change Your Puppy’s Toddler’s Life

Continue reading

How to Potty Train Your Toddler the Puppy Way Part 3

My hesitancy over potty training my toddler melted away once I realized that I could apply my knowledge of puppy training to him.

The next long weekend, I booked no dog training appointments, and my husband and I shacked up in the house with a supply of Smarties (a common candy in Canada, similar to M&Ms), stickers, and hope.

Then we followed the basic rules for potty training your puppy, modified in small ways to suit a human being instead of a canine.

Rule 1

Follow the puppy around constantly. CONSTANTLY. DO NOTHING ELSE. Whenever the puppy starts to make a “mistake” in the house, immediately interrupt the behaviour by making a startling noise and picking her up.

Well, that wouldn’t do much good since our child, unlike a puppy, was wearing a diaper. The obvious solution was to strip him naked so we could see what was going on down there and catch him in the act as needed.

So we stripped him naked and watched him closely. He was standing around innocently playing with his blocks when I heard a watery little sound. Sure enough, he was urinating on his blocks.

“Uh oh! Nope! Stop!” I cried, and grabbed him by the shoulders.

Rule 2

Take the puppy to the correct location and wait and pray and sacrifice a goat in the hope that she will finish what he started.

I rushed my son to his potty, urine still a-flying from his penis.

“Pee goes in here!” I said, and the couple teaspoons-worth fell in the designated location.

Then we threw a party.

Rule 3

Whenever the puppy does happen to urinate or defecate in the right place, throw a big party. Like, Ed McMahon just showed up at your house kind of a party. Give multiple kinds of rewards – extra special treats that he never gets at any other time, AND lots of verbal praise AND petting AND a play session.smarties

I usually use cut-up hot dogs for potty training, but our human puppy found that Smarties were more motivating. This might vary from child to child.

Our son had never had chocolate before, so he thought this was a GREAT idea.

But candy wasn’t enough. He ALSO got a sticker to put on a potty chart (which was basically a piece of bristol board hung on the door for the purpose of receiving stickers). There was also a dance. And a high five. And a hug.

Since bowel movements were less common, I allocated double-reward status to those, on the recommendation of some experienced acquaintances. TWO candies and TWO stickers!

We also promised that if he managed to get ten stickers on his chart, he earned a very special reward: UNDERWEAR.

Rule 4

Give the puppy lots of opportunity for success by leading her to the right spot on a regular basis, especially after he has eaten or drank or played or sneezed or… well, you get the idea. Do it a lot.

We lead him to the potty regularly, between each activity. And if he wanted to read a book? Why he could do so on the potty and only on the potty. This Plastic God was Lord of All Good Things, and required regular visits.

Success Starts Small

looked I pooped.jpg

That first accident on his blocks was the one and only one he had in the house. He earned his underwear (NOT Pull Up diapers, because they wouldn’t show off accidents as clearly. You MUST catch accidents every time!) by the second day and pranced about happily in them.

The first time we tried leaving the house and taking a short walk around the block he wet himself. But the good news was that he recognized it immediately, thanks to the new underwear. So the mistake was caught in the act, we ran back inside, and he managed to make a bit more in the potty.

The next day, we tried a trip to the grocery store. I put him on the potty just before we went out the door, drove like a madwoman to the store, and then carried him into the grocery store and DIRECTLY into the bathroom. He was informed that a pee in the grocery store potty would result in TWO STICKERS and he complied very willingly. A quick trip around the store, a final visit to the potty, and a race home resulted in a successful accident-free trip.

Potty Training was complete.

Well, with the exception of bowel movements…

Return to Potty Training Part 2

Go On to Potty Training Part 4