Dogs Act Just Like People, OR People Act Just Like Dogs, Part 2
Version Date: November 25, 2010
12. Dogs need several lessons before they really learn.
Commentary: We are often much more patient with dogs when trying to get them to behave a certain way than we are with humans, whom we expect to comply and obey instantly. Performance is the best teacher, and early performances must of necessity reflect at least partial ignorance and limited skill. And after the skill is learned, it must be repeated to become excellent and automatic. As John Medina says in Brain Rules, his book about how the brain functions and learns, we must "repeat to remember." Those who sneered at repetition exercises by calling them "drill and kill" are wrong. And by the way, after learning the skill or information, those who continue to study it gain fluency (also called automaticity), which allows instant recall from long-term memory. Saves a lot of extra processing time in the brain.
13. Dogs love praise and hate criticism.
Commentary: Love, praise, affection--and cookies--keep a dog happy and optimistic. The dog probably doesn't know why he is being praised or petted, but he welcomes it as a sign that his master cares about him and is his friend. Criticism, on the other hand, most likely seems bizarre and psychotic to a dog. Again, he has no idea why the master has the angry tone and scowl, because he quite frankly does not understand English apart from "cookie," and that only when spoken in the right tone of voice. The dog is not thinking, "I was bad and am being punished by harsh words," but "I guess I'd better stay away from master for awhile since he is in such a crazy mood again. He must have had a bad day at work." Praise is direct and understandable to a dog. Criticism makes no sense to a dog. Humans love praise, too, in part because there is so little of it. Many books have to be written telling bosses to praise their employees because bosses are not doing that now. There is a shortage of praise in the modern world, and an abundance of criticism. Changing the balance a bit would help humanity.
14. Dogs just want to have fun.
Commentary: Dogs are all about entertainment. They will chase each other if another available, or chomp on a chew toy if alone. Wolf and Bear love to play "find the cookie," where I hide a kibble or two or five around various places in the livingroom while they wait impatiently in the family room. Then they have a great time running around the room looking for the hidden goodies. I don't even need to say that people are all about entertainment, too. TV, Internet, iPods, iTunes, high definition everything, iPads, movies (theater, DVD, BluRay, streaming on the PC, playing in the car), Kindles and ebooks, and even printed books. And that's just information entertainment. There are activities of every kind. Well, I'm done here. Work is what gets in the way of what we really want to do, which is, just have fun.
15. What goes into a dog comes out of a dog.
Commentary: One day when
Wolf and Bear were still just puppies, I foolishly left a small bowl of
Hershey's chocolate kisses next to the sofa in the TV room. It wasn't
long before I noticed that five or six kisses were missing. Then, the
next day, when I went to clean up the processed dog food that Bear
manufactures for my benefit, I saw a lot of aluminum foil mixed
into the, um, other material. With people, what goes into the heart
comes out of the heart--processed, perhaps--but much of it likely to be
unchanged. It might taste like chocolate, but there's aluminum foil in
there, too. For awhile it's been common to say that the information
stream has changed from drinking from a water fountain to drinking from
a firehose. But it's actually more like drinking from a tsunami. We
need to be careful what we swallow. Repeating what we hear without
thinking is one of the dangers of modern life.
16. Sometimes a dog thinks it's helping when it's just being a barking nuisance.
Commentary: Dogs bark to warn,
dogs bark to threaten, dogs bark to greet, and dogs bark to ask for
something. And sometimes, dogs just bark. The warning bark is the most
irritating because it can go on so long. As long as the dog hears or
smells or imagines something amiss, he barks. We get the message and
tell him to be quiet. Would that some people could be told the same.
You might think I'm speaking as a man about incessantly talking women
who have to worry over something from every angle. And I am. But many
times men are guilty of a similar yelping with the women in their
lives. We like to solve problems and give advice--we're helping you
with your problem--when, in fact, the women don't really want advice.
They want a sympathetic--or if a man can reach that high--an
empathetic--ear. And sometimes it's the same with advice over a
decision. If your girlfriend says, "I'm thinking about getting a tattoo
on my forehead that says, 'Elvis Forever.' What do you think?" resist
the urge to laugh, mock, or criticize. Ask a question, such as, "Why
are you thinking of doing that?" And you can ask thought-provoking
questions such as, "Have you thought of getting a temporary henna
tattoo to see if you're going to like it?" If you try to argue that she
will never get a good job with such a graphic, you'll soon be lost in
an argument about why life isn't fair. And as you know if you are older
than sixteen, when a man argues with a woman, he always loses. Being
right or wrong has nothing to do with it.
17. Dogs often display a senseless possessiveness.
Commentary: Ever see a dog with
or four toys lying around, where the dog is chewing on one of them?
Just try to pick up one of the others. Many times you'll hear a growl
and maybe an angry snap. My dogs aren't guilty of this particular
personality defect, but Bear has of late been displaying a similar
quirk. In my office and in the bedroom they have beds, about three feet
by two feet. Even though at eight pounds they are large Chihuahuas,
there is still room for four or five of them in each bed. Yet Bear will
sometimes growl and then rush Wolf with a snap when the poor dog wants
to join his brother. Some people are like this. "Can we use that old,
empty storeroom?" "No, I might need it at some point." "Now that you
have a new X, can I have the old one?" "No, I want to keep it." "Wow,
you got five sets of dishes for your wedding. Which set are you going
to keep?" "All of them." "Let me just sign this check over to you."
"Okay, but don't use that pen; it's mine."
18. A dog needs a dog.
Commentary: Why do people get a
puppy and then leave it all alone while they go to work? No wonder the
puppy howls all day. Were you ever left alone as a very young child?
Dogs are social and like to greet (sniff, bark, wag tails) other dogs.
And they like companionship. As I write this, my two dogs are sleeping
up against each other, with Bear resting his head on Wolf's back. It
gets awfully lonely being the only dog in the house. That's why I got
two, so that when I'm gone they can have each other. People are just
like this. An only child doesn't have as much fun as a kid with
brothers and sisters. And you can have ten times the fun by enjoying
something with a friend than you could have had by yourself. Go for
pizza or ice cream or to a movie by yourself and you'll see what I
mean. What would a girl do with all those words if she didn't have a
girlfriend to share them with? And how could a guy enjoy fixing the car
or watching the game witout his best bud nearby, asking him if he wants
another soda? And, of course, after boys and girls learn that the
opposite sex isn't so repulsive after all, they learn that they
actually need each other.
19. A dog knows more than he tells.
Commentary: Dogs are the soul
discretion. And here, often dogs and people are not alike, though the
better people are as good as ordinary dogs. Now, if dogs could talk,
they might be more like people in this regard and become blabbermouths,
especially if someone promised them a cookie. But let's not go there.
20. A good dog will love you for life.
Commentary: Yes, we could learn
a lot about how to have happy relationships by studying dogs. If you
treat him with even a modicum of decency, a dog will always greet you
eagerly, with a waggy tail, never with a "Oh, it's just you" or worse,
a "Where have you been?" look. Dogs are agreeable, companionable, easy
to get along with, amiable, friendly, forgiving, not keepers of
resentments or retailers of past offenses. Unlike even cats, a dog will
kiss you (my dogs lick my nose to show their love) any time you need a
kiss. A dog won't disagree with everything you say, or criticize
everything you do. Or betray you while you're at work. Dogs just want
to relax and enjoy life with their human. Would that more people could
take this advice to heart. But since this is a comparison article, yes,
a good human will love you for life, too. Because people are like dogs
and dogs are like people.