Friday, September 5, 2008

Dogs and Kids... How Much Are They Alike?

We who love our dogs are often accused of treating them like they were our kids. Well, why not? Is there something wrong with that?

Oh sure, it could be argued that "some people" go overboard about it, giving their little fur-kids too much attention, or attributing too much intelligence to them so as to interpret their behaviors in ways that do not benefit them, or us, or our families.

Personally, I see nothing wrong with "spoiling" our dogs. After all, it's not like they are going to grow up and leave home. They will always depend on us, and it's our responsibility to be always mindful of that.

The kids will, of course, grow up and leave, and we must learn to let go of them in some ways so they can mature and move on in life. So that's a big difference between dogs and kids. But the similarity remains that they will always be our kids (or our fur-kids), and we can, and should, always love them.

Another major difference, though, is that kids have the intelligence to understand why we must discipline them from time to time. They have life lessons to learn. Dogs can learn behaviors and how to please us, but it's questionable whether they have the intelligence to understand the reasoning behind discipline. This is why it's so important for us to be gentle and kind when we must discipline them. It's not useful to punish, as the dog only understands that you are angry, and may not understand why.

For the dog's well being, then, it's essential to be consistent and firm, but not angry or punishing, with set rules for behavior to help guide them. This they understand... not that you know they tracked mud into the house an hour ago and are going to make them sorry they did that... it doesn't work that way.