Dogs and Kids: The Similarities and Differences
As a dog trainer in Dallas-Fort Worth, my clients tell me how similar their dogs are to their children all the time. They both need structure, stimulation, boundaries and lots of love. They both are full of life and bring so much pure joy and positive energy into our homes. Both children and dogs love to have new experiences and go to new places. They love meeting new people and seeing ones they already know. They're always happy to see you no matter what you look like or how long its been since they've seen you last. They both love to learn and interact with others. Children and dogs are truly gifts.
Now, and I can't stress this enough, even with all of their similarities, human beings and dogs have remarkable differences. Let's start with the obvious. Human children are defenseless. They are mentally and physically incapable of surviving on their own. Dogs, on the other hand, are born predators with a natural instinct to kill. They have teeth and claws as well as fur coats covering their entire bodies.
There are so many different sizes and shapes of dogs that their capabilities can vary immensely, but they will always be animals and they will always have instincts. These instincts, combined with super power senses of sight, smelling and hearing, are what keep the dogs alive. It is not their mental capacity and while intelligence levels vary widely, they are at best as smart as very small children.
When training dogs, I am most often working to improve behaviors in them. I work with everything from dominant, aggressive dogs to jumpy, nervous and distrusting dogs. What I am usually doing is seeing what is triggering a dog's instincts and how these instincts are dictating what the dog is doing.
Due to their strong instincts, loud noises, quick movements, vibes and odors have much different effects on a dog than on a human. You have to understand this first before you attempt to understand their reactions. Trying to get a dog's attention or direct their actions when you are competing with their instincts can lead to all kinds of problems. What I do is get the dogs to use their brain to override their instincts so that they can exhibit self control and good manners.
Now you know why, even though we love dogs just like they are our own children, treating them exactly like a human can cause problems for you and your dog. By living in reality and putting your dog's needs above your own fantasies about who they are you are showing real and meaningful love to your furry family member.