When interacting with your dog, it is perfectly okay to spoil them.
But remember, love them as a parent!
The Task of a Parent
Parents need to teach their kids what is appropriate behavior. No child is born with an understanding of the complex requirements we have of society. Use encouragement and motivation. Guide them in a direction of what is acceptable and what is not.
We also need to remember that expecting a child to act as an adult is not only difficult; it is ridiculous. (For that matter, there are many “adults” that act as kids!)
Dogs are no different! Puppies need to learn what to chew on; when to eat; when to play and when to sleep.
As the pet owner, you are the parent. And as the parent, you are responsible for teaching them.
Older dogs that have been raised with few boundaries, need to learn how to act. And while most are willing to learn, there are a few that either have no wish to learn, or are so established in their behavioral patterns, they have no wish to change.
The Task of a Grandparent
What is the task of a Grandparent. Actually, this is quite complex.
In many societies, Grandparents are seen as the “elders”.
They have extensive experience; have learned many life-lessons and are generally well educated. In many cultures, education is not book learned; it is learned through practical hands-on training. A “student” is taught through constant repetition of the correct behavior.
“You learn what you see!” (Sound familiar?)
In behavioral training we refer to this as modeling, and at our school we apply this concept extensively. Older (more experienced) dogs teach younger (greener) dogs.
Something these cultures have in common is a great respect for the elder. Students value their leadership, teachings and knowledge. Students are comfortable with following and obeying the elder; and elders feel appreciated and needed.
In the Western world, this has changed. While many see the elders as knowledgable, the proliferation of electronics and social media has created a belief that the younger generations know more. Now the child believes they are “more educated”.
I am not sure I agree with this. Yes, sure, we know more about computers, games, sport, etc.. But are these truly life lessons? Does this mean we know it all? Is this a new culture?
Grandparents as Spoilers
For many families, the Grandparent has been relegated to the background. (In some cases, the Grandparent is completely missing, but that’s for another discussion.)
Grandparents now fill the role of being the “spoiler”, meaning they spoil the kids, they don’t educate them. This is not necessarily wrong; simply it is what it is. The problem is that some dog owners become Grandparents.
So is this change in our culture possibly the source of our “entitlement” generation? Have we developed a new culture? One in which first the grandparent; and now the parent; is no longer the teacher? Worse, the student believes they are now entilted?
We need to get back to being the parent! Parents still need to teach! And children need to learn. Grandparents should be a part of that process, even if they are more in the support role. After all, they have a lifetime of experience to offer – let’s put that to use!
What has this got to do with Dogs?
By now, you are wondering what has this to do with dogs.
Let me explain.
Dogs are like children. For many, they are our children.
They need calm, confident and motivated leadership.
They need to be educated.
They need to learn restraint.
They need to learn what the rules are in life – what we tolerate, and what we don’t!
Parents not Grandparents.
So while you want to be seen as a dog lover; remember to be a parent first.