Raising Dogs 

Dog ownership is very similar to parenting. In fact, Bardi McLennan wrote a book that is called Dogs and Kids. In this book, the author points out many parallels between parenting a toddler and raising a puppy. Some of the common needs include feeding, grooming, safekeeping, simple teaching and love. 

Children will grow and assume more and more responsibility, but dogs will forever be trapped in a toddler mentality. Dogs will always need parenting because their needs will remain the same. 

Parenting a dog is much more that simply teaching commands, just as parenting children is much more than taking care of children’s basic needs. Both must be raised as an ongoing process. Raising a dog, like parenting, is something you do all of the time. 

Trust is a prime ingredient in raising a dog. The methods for developing trust vary depending upon your dog’s needs.  But, all dogs need owners to be consistent in such things as rules, safety, food, handling, and play. 

Trust will go awry if you or anyone else teases your dog. Teasing teaches your dog that you cannot be trusted because your actions are not predictable. Distrust can be generalized to include strange adults and children. Only adult dogs that have learned to trust will accept good-natured teasing because they do trust people and can read their playful intentions.

Toddlers go through a stage commonly called, the “terrible twos”. During this stage, they may develop a game, called “run and chase”. They run wildly away from their parents, giggling as they go. This can become a dangerous situation if the child decides to run near the street. Puppies (and adult dogs) thoroughly enjoy the “run and chase” game and it can be equally dangerous. Puppies are not reliable and should be kept on a leash. 

The terrible twos is also a time of rebellion. A common vocabulary word amongst two-year-old children is, “No!” Puppy owners experience this same behavior when their puppies are around 12-16 weeks of age. Being sassy is a way to get attention, especially when limits are not clearly defined. Puppies will often bark in response to owners telling them to do something it already knows or is learning to do. 

Dog owners react like many toddler parents. They are amused by the behavior. Puppies that do bark at their owners do so to control them. Your reaction should be to always follow through on whatever you told your dog to do. Stay good-natured and friendly, but be firm in what you expect and don’t take no for an answer. 

The next time that your dog will become rebellious is at around 10 months of age when he is a canine teenager. Now back-talking may also include “challenge talk”. “Make me” is the message and that is exactly what you will need to do firmly, but with good humor and offer rewards and praise for compliance. Luckily, dogs pass through stages of development quickly and become adults. Time and effort early on means less work later. 

In summary, children talk back and manipulate their parents. So do dogs because these are normal and healthy parts of growing up. They are ways dogs and kids negotiate. Left unchecked, however these behaviors can carry over into social rudeness and unruliness.


Dogs are good attention getters that will manipulate owners. Most owners don’t recognize this because the behaviors dogs use to manipulate us are endearing. They paw us to let us know that they want to be petted or taken for a walk. They plead with their big brown or blue eyes for us to share our snack. They nip, whine, nudge us with their noses, pull on our pants or sweaters, pound against the back door, drop toys in our laps, and wriggle in beside us on the couch in order to manipulate us. 

These forms of manipulation are not all wrong and can actually be used to our advantage as owners. Barking at the door to go outside is certainly a goal of many trying to housebreak a puppy. To deal with these kinds of behaviors, you need to teach the dog the context in which the behavior is acceptable. Put behaviors on cue and don't reward them unless you asked for them.  Ignore their attempts to manipulate you. It is an effective form of discipline that you can use when you’re not trying to eliminate a behavior from your dog’s repertoire, but simply curb his use of it to manipulate you.


Ignoring works on all friendly, cute little behaviors that though not bad or naughty, can become annoying and definitely allow the dog to be in charge.  When you discipline by ignoring, you tell your dog that you will entertain and be happy with these little antics some other time and on your terms. 

In other words, you let your dog know that you’re on to him. For instance, if you pup paws at you to be petted, asking him to sit before you pet him, shifts the control to you and away from him.

The following ways are those suggested by McLennan to effectively ignore your dog:

1.       Do not look at or speak even a single word to the dog.

2.     Do not touch the dog. If you’re sitting down, gently push the dog away from you.

3.     If the dog is blocking your path or jumping up, gently move the dog aside without a word and without eye contact. This is not the time for an off command because you are ignoring the dog.

4.     If you’re standing up and the dog approaches you, fold your arms in front of you and turn your back. Walk away or leave the room if necessary.


 Ignoring allows you to enforce discipline without jeopardizing your options to say yes to those behaviors when you don’t have other things to do or other priorities. Ignoring is something a pack will do when a member of the group gets out of line.

There are traumatic moments that good parents experience as their children or puppies grow up. Amongst them is separation anxiety. It’s an awful feeling when your toddler screams as you drop him off at daycare or your child calls you at 10:30 to come home from a friend’s house. 

How you handle separation will help or hinder the situation. Separation is a part of life. There is no reason to feel guilty about it. Indeed, feelings of guilt can have two adverse effects on your child or your dog. Either he will become increasingly spoiled by your unwarranted attention to compensate for leaving or he will experience excessive stress from picking up on your emotions when you leave him. 

Another common cause of guilt is discipline. Indeed, raising a puppy is a good venue for learning how to parent correctly. Parents who do not know how to parent do not appropriately administer discipline. The goal of disciplining is to produce a dog with self-control. The disciplined dog will walk down the street, paying little or no attention to the barking or growling dog behind the fence and will tolerate the adoration of children.  Discipline is a preventive measure that precludes the need for punishment. Having been taught what is right; the dog will continue trying to win approval. 

Discipline involves both teaching and learning. There are certain strategies involved in disciplining that simply do not work children and are bad or worse when used with dogs. In fact these strategies are mere reactions to our own failures in preventing the problem in the first place. Among these ill suited strategies are yelling, physical abuses, forcing, nagging, showing anger, and guilt.

In your canine household, you must be the pack leader or alpha. If you are not a strong leader, your dog may try to take over. Your goal is teach your dog become a cooperative member of the pack.  He needs to obey your rules and commands because it is important to the pack. 

The pack leader is the center of the pack’s universe. If your dog looks to you for leadership and sees none, he will acquire his own rules and code of conduct; will do as he pleases when he pleases, and likely create misery for you.


In addition, you must be the primary source of EVERYTHING, especially fun and exciting things. You need to spend quality time with your dog. When you add a new puppy or dog to the household, you should keep him with you constantly. Handle him at every opportunity. Pet and play with him. Snuggle him, kiss him, and enjoy his antics and mannerisms. Brush him, feed him, and take him for rides in the car, to parks, and shopping areas. Expose him to all of the sights and sounds that he will typically encounter. Teach your dog that everything  you do together, whether that be training, playing, grooming, riding in the car, going for a walk is going to be fun and exciting.

Dog ownership requires that you be proactive not reactive.
Supervise your dog. If you can’t watch him, put him in a crate. When owners are not watching their dogs, they have the opportunity to get into trouble or develop bad habits. In record time, dogs can demolish household items. They will eat walls, chew through electric cords, and demolish a pair of shoes or your kid’s favorite toy in seconds. There should also be some time during each day that your puppy or dog is by himself in a crate or kennel. The time spent alone helps dogs to be more secure and not too dependent on their owners. It is not natural for dogs to be alone, so they must learn to cope with periods of solitude.