Please and Thank You

Visiting with a friend recently, she commented on how impressed she was that Shelby thanked her for something she was given without being prompted. Since she started talking, we have been constantly reinforcing and encouraging her to “mind her P’s and Q’s”, so to speak, and she is generally pretty good at it these days, though there are still times when we do have to remind her.

Once again, I’m reminded at the similarities in working with dogs and children. In her recent newsletter, TV dog trainer, Victoria Stilwell, wrote that while we must be careful not to anthropomorphize too much, there are still many similarities between rearing children and raising dogs within our families.

Let’s take please and thank you as an example. As I recently wrote in the High Drive Dogs blog, many dogs get very pushy in asking for whatever they want. In such cases, it’s helpful to teach them to “work for everything.” Most specifically, rather than just insisting on getting what they want, we want our dogs to ask politely. And if you are thinking that by suggesting that dogs “ask” for things, I’m anthropomorphizing here, remember that any well-housebroken dog without a dog door must know how to ask to go out.

Thank you for the flowers!

But what about please and thank you?  Well, I encourage my clients to teach their dogs to sit politely to ask for things, rather than pushing their way onto us for attention, or barking insistently when they want other things. And for thank you? This can often come naturally in the form of a tail wag.

Then there’s the issue of the “indoor” and “outdoor” voices. We are working diligently with our daughter to teach her not to scream and yell in the house, but that it’s OK to do this outdoors when she’s playing. My dogs, similarly, have learned to woof quietly when they need something indoors, but they are allowed to bark more loudly when they are outside, depending on the setting.

Many similarities indeed, as we raise our children and dogs within our homes. And while we must never forget that they are different species, with different needs and behavioral characteristics, please and thank you serve to remind us of why dogs have come to be such an integral part of our families, and why rules for both dogs and children are crucial in developing polite and well-behaved adults. So train on my friends.And thank you for reading.


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