The Super Nanny and Dog Training

Dog TrainingI came home the other day from a long day of dog training and my wife was watching the Super Nanny. Interesting because we have no children!

Anyway, she had me sit down and watch this episode where this young mother (with 3 kids all under the age of 6) who is about to explode. Stressed out to the max and neither she nor her husband have any idea of how to put order into their home

These kids are all over the place especially the 2 boys, who I think were ages 6 and 4. They run around like crazy yelling and screaming. They refuse to eat at dinner time. She puts them in a time-out and they refuse to stay in the room but instead constantly scream at their mother.

The young mother was ready for a breakdown and so she called the Super Nanny.

My wife kept saying – these are exactly the same dog behavior problems that dog owners call about all the time.

  • My dog runs around the house and/or yard, goes crazy and will not listen to me or stop what he’s doing
  • He won’t stay in a sit or a down when we have company and just keeps coming over and jumping on people and getting on the couch.
  • My dog is constantly barking out the window at people walking by or worse yet, barking when the doorbell rings.
  • When I yell at him Things seem to just get worse.

After carefully assessing the family dynamics, the Super Nanny did some very simple, but powerful things.

  • She put a schedule into place
  • She had the mom take all of her emotional energy OUT of her dealings with the kids
  • She made the mom stick to the plan and not vary the routine

Guess what, the difference in the kids was almost instantaneous. She quit setting her kids up to fail and there was peace and happiness in the household.

Just as no two kids are alike, it is the same with dogs. And, regardless of temperaments the rule is the same with dogs:

Without structure, routine, expectations and boundaries, you will get chaos and civil disobedience. This causes stress and anxiety in dogs. Dogs then get tense and behavior problems surface.

A colleague of mine recently made an interesting analogy by describing two types of dogs:

  1. Happy-go-lucky types that remain unaffected by family chaos regardless of emotional family influences or stress and, in fact may tend to thrive on the challenge or call to leadership because of the chaos – creating problems on its own and,
  2. The other type of dog the “Arm & Hammer” dog (named after the baking soda). This dog is more profoundly affected by the same emotional and stressful family influences.

Just like the box of baking soda that soaks up all the bad odors in the refrigerator until it doesn’t work any more, the Arm & Hammer dog absorbs all the negative emotional energy from the chaos in the family and behavior problems surface.

Both types of dogs need the Super Nanny approach that provides structure, routine, expectations and boundaries WITHOUT emotional energy when having to correct your dogs.

If you’re having dog behavior problems, first look at yourself and understand that small changes in your behavior can evoke positive changes in your dog’s behavior By keeping your cool and providing the needed structure mentioned above, your dog will thrive in the stress-free family environment. He will know what behavior he is to offer up because you have taught him that behavior AND he will also thrive on the fact that you are leading the relationship—-not him

So, I say “Hats off to the Super Nanny” —maybe her next career will be as a dog trainer

Be as comfortable with the trainer of your dog as you are the teacher of your children. And remember: “Opportunity Barks”

(C) Jim Burwell 2010

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