Your Reaction…Their Reaction

Puppies and Kids are a lot a like. I talked with a group of mothers once before I was married and had kids of my own. I was a brand new 2LT and was told I had to go to a military wives’ luncheon, and so I did. Everyone was talking about their kids.  I knew something about them. I was one once. I babysat them when I was a teen. But even more so, I had raised dogs and a cat. They’re like kids. Don’t ever tell a mother who doesn’t own a pet that kids and pets are a lot alike.

It can be a real conversation killer.

I actually used the scene in a book: Bound by Danger. LOL Life’s happenings can be perfect for fictionalized stories.

I can talk on a lot of subjects: travel, places I’ve lived, other jobs I’ve had, pets, and really, kids. But at the time, not my own.

So there I sat, eating my lunch, smiling, and glad when it was through. Now, years later, I can go to another club luncheon and hear all about surgeries and illnesses. Not there yet either.

When I asked folks what their 3-year-olds do, there was a common theme: copy what the adults do. Kids want to grow up. They want to be adults, doing what adults do, having the freedom that adults have.

They watch adults to see their take on things, and they learn to react in the same way. Kids, and pets, would love all your attention, and all your loving. If they don’t get it, they can go elsewhere to entertain themselves. And sometimes get into trouble over it. Does it mean they’re bad?

No, just bored.

A friend said she was going to send me an article about how our actions can influence our pets. Did I know that?

Oh absolutely.

Here’s an example. When the phone rings, I jump up and run for it. Yes, I don’t have one near my desk. Why? It’s not a bad thing to jump up and run for it. Gets me moving, my heart pumping, burns more calories. But the puppies also react. They go crazy, bark, race around, head for the phone, wonder why I’m not going to do anything with it, watch me. It’s a telemarketer, I return to the desk, puppies settle down.

Tanner wanting down from the chair to help answer the phone

Tanner wanting down from the chair to help answer the phone

Next time, I have the phone at my desk. Just talked to my son so it’s still sitting on my desk. And the puppies jump up. But I don’t. I look at the caller ID, telemarketer, ignore it and continue typing. The puppies settle right back down. I’ve conditioned them to react like I do. So then I have to recondition them not to react to the phone like I do. 🙂

Pets can copy other pets too. My standard poodle was a mimic. My Lab would goose us and we’d laugh and pet her and she loved the attention. She didn’t do it all the time, but she was funny. When she died, my standard poodle started doing it. She had learned from Dusty, but didn’t do it until Dusty was gone. So it was a surprise to see her react in such a way later. But she got the same attention and laughter.

I was watching a video where a 3-year-old was using a swear word. The mom is recording it, asking her to repeat it and laughing and then finally said, “You shouldn’t use that word.”

The little girl is getting completely mixed messages. I’d love to see when she tells someone in her pre-school, “I’m going to kick your ass,” and how much the teachers and parents of the other kids who learn this cute little saying are going to think it was cute. 🙂

Kids are like parrots. (Like puppies too, but when it comes to parroting what the adults say, watch out!)

So yep, I definitely know that my reaction to things can help influence my puppies’ reaction to things. Just like when I was raising my two kids.

When my puppies do something good, I always praise them. A lot. You can’t give enough praise. Even though they’re potty trained, when they go to the bathroom outside, I still praise each by name. Tanner still looks at me when I do, sometimes before I praise him. He wants to know he’s doing good. Max most of the time doesn’t now. But today, he did and you could see he was glad he was doing what I wanted him to do. Afterward, he joins me to get some more praise. When I was raising my kids, same thing. I always encouraged them they could do anything they set their minds to do. My dad always said the same thing to us when we were growing up.

What about hugs? We get so busy with our daily lives, sometimes we forget to hug the ones we love. If I hug Tanner, Max is right there for his hug.

I’ll never forget the story of a man whose father was an alcoholic, abusive, and his mother who was an enabler and not there for her kids at all. But he had an aunt who would visit and hug him. That meant the world to him. She gave him unconditional love. He believed if it wasn’t for her, he would never have been able to share that one little gesture of kindness when he was grown.

We are never too old to learn new tricks. To turn over a new leaf. To make the effort to influence someone’s life in a positive way. Even if that someone is a cute little puppy.

Have a super great day!


“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy is reality.”

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