Lessons from an Eight Year Old: The Golden Rule for Dogs

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We are in that stage of our family’s life where my son wants to be like his dad, and my daughter wants to be just like me. Dad likes football, so does Brody. Mom likes Starbucks, so does Anna. Dad loves dogs, so does Brody. Mom doesn’t like one of our dogs, neither does Anna. It’s not that I don’t like him but he truly does get on my nerves. It’s not cool to admit to having a favorite child. However, I feel no guilt in admitting I totally have favorite dog.

While Daisy is a sweet, submissive Goldendoodle, Rocco is a 130 pound stubborn, yet handsome, mutt. Daisy is everything I love in a dog, so cute, sweet, and manageable. Rocco barks, really loudly, scares away small children, sheds, and worst of all, gets on my couches over and over again. This is why I am currently in a phase of anti-Rocco, and pro-Daisy, just as Anna is!

Now, as I have mentioned before, children notice everything. It’s not that I beat Rocco, like I used to. I rarely ever spank him, anymore. However, the tone of my voice and body language says it all. So, while driving today, my daughter tells Brody that she doesn’t like Rocco. Hmmm, wonder where she got that! Brody, acting so much like his dad, takes that personally. He’s part of our family. He scolds Anna for being so mean, and I admit I don’t like Rocco very  much right now either. I love him but his habits of gnawing, slurping, barking, and worst of all, sleeping on the couches when I’m not looking is SO annoying to me. I know it sounds silly but I let most things go. I can overlook a lot of habits from my children that my husband cannot. I don’t feel angry often. But, Rocco does push my buttons. SO, I really don’t feel that bad about my not-liking-him-phase.

Well, I didn’t feel that bad until my eight year old enlightened me. He said to me today, “You know, mom. He’s probably just acting out because you’re being mean to him. (Wonder where he got that, “being mean to him”..hmmm!?) He continued by explaining that “he’s acting out because you are rude to him”! He has been getting on the couch a lot lately, and he goes through phases with this annoying habit of leaving his trail of hair and dirt behind. It’s been worse lately, though, and he does get a lot less love from me lately, as a result. Brody advised that if I were “nicer and kinder to him, he would start acting better.”

Dang. He might be right! That is the way it works with kids. I work with those ‘annoying’ kids with bad habits, the ones the teachers are happy to get out of their room. These kids are not self-correcting with punishments, reprimands, or threats. What they need is kindness. They need someone to be nice to them, and not make them tuck their tails in.

So, while I haven’t entered back into the pro-Rocco phase, I may need to change my technique. The yelling isn’t working. He knows he’s not supposed to do it. Could he actually be manipulating me into giving him more attention like kids do when they act out? Who knows. He is just a mutt. But, my lesson learned today wasn’t learned from a book, a wise adult, or research. It’s pretty simple, actually. Sometimes your eight year old has a lot to teach you. In life, stop acting rude and try kindness. It can’t hurt.Featured image

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