The One Thing I’m Telling You Before You Have a Kid

There are few situations I dread more than a young couple with a new pet they refer to as “our child”. I’m not talking every young couple with a pet, mind you, but specifically those that refer to him or her as a kid. Though you might expect these to be the most involved and conscientious owners, and oftentimes they are, just as often you see them about a year or two later with a stroller and a decidedly changed attitude. And then you don’t see them at all.

Note to Allison: You Personally Shouldn’t Get a Dog. Don’t Speak for Me.

Case in point: Allison Benedikt, the author of the recent Slate piece “The One Thing No One Tells You Before You Have Kids: Don’t Get a Dog“, her  story of dog ownership gone awry that unsurprisingly begins with her boyfriend surprising her with a border collie/American Eskimo mix she hadn’t asked for. And it went OK, until she got pregnant and suddenly realized her dog was not a child, it was a dog, and she didn’t really want one after all.

I have no problem with people who refer to their pets as children/furkids/what have you, as long as they do so with the understanding that their pet is, in fact, not a human child surrogate but an actual animal. Loving your pet like a kid: fine. Expecting your pet to act in proxy for a human until an actual human comes along, then resenting them for not being a human: not ok. And therein lies the difference.

The problem I have with pieces like Allison’s is that it dismisses her pet with a shrug and an “oh well, this is what happens when you have kids, amiritelol?” And the answer to that is, it doesn’t have to.

kids

The Truth About Dog Ownership After Kids

When you bring a new baby home, the dog slips down a notch and experiences neglect the likes of which you promised wouldn’t happen but happens anyway. This neglect applies equally well to your spouse, yourself, other children in the house, your career, everything. This is not a unique phenomenon. But guess what? Your dog forgives you.

Your dog is not a human. I repeat, your dog is NOT A HUMAN. This means several things:

1. Yes, Allison, they will continue to do things like shed and lick themselves and all the other things they did before. On the plus side, no diapers.

2. If you pressured yourself to participate in doggy weekly playgroups and aromatherapy sessions and are feeling guilty that you no longer want to do that, that’s on you. Your dog doesn’t care. Because he’s a dog and doesn’t get guilt. Give him a brushing (see 1) and a bone and you’re all good.

Parenthood Isn’t The End of the World for you Or your Pet

Seriously. People have been doing it for thousands of years; yes, things change afterwards, but you deal and get through it. If you have an epiphany afterwards that what you really wanted was a human, not a dog/cat/whatever, that’s on you, not the pet.

If you truly are in a situation where it can’t work; severe allergies or safety issues or the like, do the right thing and find a good home yourself instead of placing the burden on a shelter (in which case it might be the end of the world for your pet).

If there is one thing I could tell anyone before they have kids, it’s actually very simple: Don’t get a dog unless you want a dog. Because surprisingly enough, they’re going to stay one long past the time you bring home baby.

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Solving A Problem With The ABCs

Cutie jumping up.

Let’s look at the ABCs series thus far, especially this post, and see how we can apply the ABCs to solving a real problem.

I started a new basic class this Saturday and a few of the dogs jump up when they meet people, as one might expect for adolescent dogs. In the following class hour, a Canine Good Citizen class, another adolescent had the same issue with the polite greeting test.

I like this problem as an example for the ABCs because the components in the formula are clear and easy to identify.

Antecedent -> Behavior -> Consequence

Person Approaches -> Dog jumps up onto person -> Attention is given to dog

The antecedent is "person approaches". It’s not "dog sees person." This is because the dog cannot be part of the antecedent. In more complex situations the tendency might be to describe an antecedent with the dog included such as "the dog sees another dog" but that won’t work since one of our most powerful measures in solving a problem is controlling the antecedents, either as part of a behavior modification plan or even permanently. It we put the dog in the antecedent we’ve lumped the problem together and solving it becomeS more complicated.

In this case we are going to control the antecedent in two ways: we are going to avoid greetings as much as possible until we can better control them, and while we are training we will carefully control how quickly people approach and how close they will come.

The behavior is the easiest component to identify. The dogs I worked with Saturday were all exuberant "teenagers" that love people and really want to let them know that when they meet them.

After our rather long talk about counter-conditioning and desensitization (go to the category page scroll down a bit) it is worth noting that when we see the relaxed/goofy body postures, wagging tails, and what most observers would call "happy dogs" we know that these dogs are not reacting to the approaching people with fear or aggression and that CC&DS is not what is called for. We don’t want to change how they feel about people, we want to change how they react to them.

The consequence is what often confuses people. For these dogs just getting to the people is reinforcing enough to maintain the behavior. Hugging someone who is holding up their hands and saying "Stop! Get off! Down! Enough!" isn’t reinforcing for us, but that’s not the point. It is for the dog and it is maintaining the behavior.

So how do we apply the formula to this problem?

I already mentioned controlling the antecedent. Obviously this is not a viable long-term strategy. Short term we need to curb greetings because the reinforcement is strengthening the behavior, but this is a temporary step.

In this case changing the consequence is tricky. The only way we could keep the "A" and the "B" and alter the outcome would be to make greeting people unpleasant, and this could have obvious side effects. If we teach the dog that greeting some people results in something bad, he will become wary and maybe even defensive around strangers.

But there is a way to manipulate the situation: if the dog (like most) makes it obvious that he will jump up before the person arrives, we can have them stop or move away when he does this. This is the common "red light/green light" or "yo-yo" drill that many trainers use in classes. Done effectively, it actually becomes a way to use DRI to fix this problem.

  1. Our dog is on leash, held by his owner. Sitting at his side.
  2. Person approaches, dog gets out of sit. Person turns (dramatically if possible) and walks away.
  3. Repeat several times.
  4. Eventually, person approaches, dogs holds sit! Person continues to approach. When very close dog gets up. Person moves away.
  5. Eventually, person approaches, dog holds sit all the way until person reaches team and can greet human.

This is obviously an ideal scenario, mainly because I didn’t want to write another 500 words just describing the scenario. (I need to film this with a green dog and then edit the heck out of it.)

By starting with a sit and using getting up it as the criteria for having the person move away we focused on what we wanted instead of what we didn’t want.

Sometimes having the handler reward the dog with food is appropriate. Sometimes it adds to the dog’s excitement and makes things worse. Sometimes it even takes the dog’s focus completely off the exercise. It depends. In this rosy scenario attention was the main reinforcer and I went with it.

How long did it take? With the dog in the CGC class I was able to actually do this procedure in a few minutes. But this was a dog that had already passed a basic class and had a strong history of reinforcement for sitting. Pick a behavior that your dog is already proficient at when using this kind of problem solving.

What problems have you had success with solving? What problems have you stumped? What do you think of this approach to problem solving? Let me know in the comments!

Also, have you joined my email list yet? Every week I send an update on new posts to the blog, with a few extra notes from me. I’d love to have you onboard!

Solving A Problem With The ABCs is a post written by . You can see the actual post at Dog Training in Bergen County New Jersey


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What is the best flea and tick product for dogs?

Question by samantha: What is the best flea and tick product for dogs?
I have a lhasa apso who was recently adopted. She keeps scratching herself so I believe she has fleas. She was recently spayed so she cant bathe for ten days. I use to use the flea collar on my other dog but it didn’t work. I heard front line was a great product and i want something that will work well for her. what products have you used and thought were great. Any information would be helpful !

Best answer:

Answer by Sharon
Advantage and now you dont need a script you can get it online or at petsmart vet center

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!

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