But well-behaved dogs don’t spring fully formed from the womb. They must be actively raised — which is not easy. The same goes for kids.–Jeff Koyen
As I returned some books to the library this morning, I drove past a straggle of four-year-olds from a nearby preschool. The first two kids in line held the teacher or caregiver’s hands. The rest followed in two loosely constructed lines. Each of the approximately sixteen kids carried a colorful plastic waterbottle as he or she trudged along. One young lady marched virorously, swinging her waterbottle in one hand and sucking strongly on the thumb of her other hand. You can make me carry this waterbottle but I’ll do what I want with my other hand. So there!
We proclaim that we like the naturalness and spontaneity of young children and puppies. Yet we spend a lot of time and effort teaching them appropriate manners on how to eat, when to keep quiet, how to communicate when they need to relieve themselves and the appropriate place to do that, and how to behave in public. We teach our dogs to walk on a leash, our children to hold our hands or remain in their strollers, not to bark or scream, not to scratch their privates or sniff another dog’s butt. Much of this is done in the name of safety and manners that will make the child or pup more socially acceptable and less prone to disasterous accidents.
Why do we strive to change the very behavior we swear we like? We praise owners and/or parents with well behaved offspring. Yet we love to look at children and puppies gamboling around, being carefree and innocent.
We spend the child’s first year waiting for her to say her first word and take her first step. We then spend the next seventeen years telling them to sit down and be quiet.