I believe in using containment when training dogs and children. When Lily the puppy chews on a plant, I crate her with a chew toy. When a toddler puts a fork in an outlet, he goes into the playpen. “Act, don’t Yak!” [Dr. Sam Goldstein] Dogs and children of all ages respond to action. They tune out lectures.
Dogs and tots-to-teens can benefit from containment in a crate, playpen or bedroom. They feel safe in their space. It provides contemplation time for parents and young people.
Even though I shepherded four teenagers through adolescence, I never grounded them as punishment. I did shorten their leash when they made poor choices. I didn’t let them use my car except to get to work. I said, “You can have your friends over here while I am home” or “You can stay home with us tonight and watch ‘Lassie’ ” or another G-rated movie.
The trouble with grounding and using violent punishment to train a dog or child — like yelling, berating, belittling and hitting — is that it breeds revenge, resentment and rebellion. It shows children and dogs that bullying works to get others to do what you want. I used to think children had to feel pain and be punished to learn. I was wrong. They have to feel consequences to learn, but they don’t have to be violent.
Positive discipline always looks for the three Rs — related-respectful-reasonable [Jane Nelsen Ph.D.] – in a natural or logical consequence. It works for dogs and humans. When Lily doesn’t come when she’s called, she gets put on the leash because she has demonstrated she can’t be trusted.
When young people show they can’t be trusted, their leash gets shortened. They must stay closer to home, in their room or playpen, where they can re-group and feel contained.
Dogs and kids both respond to encouragement, kindness, firmness and consistency. Children and dogs both want to please. When parents bully, children and dogs become bitter and mean. Then they feel hurt and want to hurt back their parents. They can become bullies and/or victims.
When Lily makes a good decision, I shower her with “good dog!” and lots of petting. Tots-to-teens respond to encouragement, too. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a good reminder to work on non-violent parenting skills. Parents, dogs and children can be trained in non-violent discipline.