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What does a parenting educator do when she gets a new dog and needs help in extinguishing some bad habits and instilling some good ones? She calls a Dog Trainer.
On my own I taught Mindy where to peep and poop and to stay when I didn’t want her dashing out of an open door.
But she had some bad habits I could not convince her to change. She tugged at her leash and, even though she weighs a mere 13 pounds and I weigh considerably more, our walks were a struggle. A more dangerous habit was grabbing any object within reach and mouthing or even chewing and swallowing said object. These are often worrisome objects like paper clips, screws, pencils, ice cream sticks, etc. She also grabbed insects and small lizards. I found her chewing eagerly on the patio and when I opened her mouth found half a grasshopper there. Even my young grandson said I could assume the other half was already being digested. And yes, she did need veterinary attention a couple of times after such an escapade.
Of course I dog-proofed the house but Mindy is very quick and sneaky. If a pencil rolls off the desk she will grab and run to another room before I realize what has happened.
What did Mindy and I learn from the dog trainer? In only two sessions she learned how to walk on a leach without pulling and respond to a sharp-toned, “Leave it!” when she approached or was found with any object not suitable for a dog’s tummy.
The training principles were to praise a desired behavior (“Good sit!”), reward a desired behavior, (tiny treat), and use a correction voice as well as a firm tug on the leash. And, of course, we have to practice what we learned over and over again and I have to be as consistent as possible.
The fact that Mindy literally learned how to walk without tugging the leach in one lesson reminded me about an important principle in child discipline. Young creatures WANT to please their Mommy.
One of the most important basic strategies of child discipline is to USE YOUR CHILD’S DESIRE TO PLEASE YOU. Your child would rather have your approval than any toy on the market. Work with, not against, this desire to please. Be sure your child knows you are pleased.
When a desired behavior occurs, the child puts a toy back in the toy basket, for example, NAME IT and PRAISE IT. “You put your toy away! You are a good boy who knows where the toys go!” A hug is in order and be sure to ham it up to show how pleased you are.
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