A new series?

Do you remember that scene in “Knocked Up” when the sister remarks that the boyfriend is “playing fetch with my kids….”? As parents, we’re totally that boyfriend.

I keep joking that I’m going to write a series of posts titled, “Everything I Learned About Parenting I Learned From My Vet/ Dog Trainer/ Menagerie of Animals” but aside from my inability to choose an easily recitable title, I keep worrying I’ll offend someone.

There’s nothing like comparing kids to pets to suck all the air out of a room.

Except, well, I’m me, and my kid is mine, and this is our story.

Everything I Learned About Parenting I Learned From My Dog Trainer, Part I

If you recall, we shower with our kid, finding it much easier on the back to squeeze a kid with one arm and wash with another than lean over the tub and try to keep him from drowning. And as a former kid who hated getting water on my face, I wanted him to think going under the shower spray was fun.

Cue the dog training idea.

When you want a dog to find something fun he would naturally not like, you mold his behavior using positive reinforcement. Want him to go in a crate? Leave the door open and reward him for any activity he chooses to do that is in the direction of the crate – looking, sniffing, whatever.

Now, my infant obviously can’t choose to go under the shower spray, but I figured I’d try rewarding a happy response. He loves the sound, “Yay!” and playing the smoochy game. To make it easier for him to know what was coming, I added some sounds, “Chugga-chugga-chugga-WOO,” that last part when I moved us under the water. {No idea why I went with a train sound.} Then, when we popped back out after a second, I’d say, “Yay!” and give him a smoochy when he looked at me.

It worked! When I start the “Chugga…” he ducks his head a little bit and closes his eyes. When he hears, “Yay!” he looks up and smiles at me, then waits for his smoochy.

I’ll share more stories as time allows. And hey, as a former pregnant woman who always apologized for comparing my puppy experience with what I thought having a kid would be like, let me just say that *I* don’t find it to be an insulting comparison. At this age, my son is very much like a puppy – super fun and very exhausting all at once. Smile


6 thoughts on “A new series?

  1. LOVE THIS!! And as a non-dog owner but first time parent I don’t care where the knowledge comes from but if it works I’ll take it! 🙂

  2. Oh my god, I make the kid/dog comparisons all day long!! After having a dog for 5 years and now having a 4 month old, it’s totally habit to say things like “good boy!” and then I feel bad because that’s what we say to our dog. But when he IS a good boy, I should be able to say that, right!??! Why do I feel so guilty, like I’m treating him like a dog? We love our dog like he’s a child, so it’s only fair to love our child like he’s a pup.

  3. From a research perspective, this is completely legit for a small child who isn’t necessarily capable of reasoning and critical thinking, deep contemplations, etc. It’s behaviorism, basically. Things are really pretty black-and-white for little babies, and that’s how they are for animals too. The difference is of course that babies will develop those skills as they age. Developing these basic behaviors and responses is absolutely going to help him develop his more complex “higher order” skills as he grows, I think! And your shower example is just TOO CUTE.

  4. totally do the same thing. we’ve owned a dog for 7 years, and needless to say, we tend to use some of the same “directions” for our daughter that we used on our dog. A common one we use is “Leave it”, when we don’t want her to touch something. it drives my MIL crazy who thinks we shouldn’t do that, and she gets mad when we say training a kid is similar to how we train the dog, but it’s true… catching the behavior, using positive reinforcement, be consistent.

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