The holiday season is a time of fun and laughter and love. Whether it’s The Grinch or Rudolph or Frosty that’s your favourite, there is a lot of fun poetry and verse inspired by the season. I thought I would share some holiday cheer with you all this holiday season. A little story of Christmas at our house. However you celebrate the season, be sure to enjoy your dogs.
T’was the night before Christmas, but where were the dogs?
Out in the back yard, barking into the fog.
The leashes were hung by the door for the night,
And the cupboards with dog treats were all closed up tight.
We let the dogs in and they ran to their places,
And they looked up at us with their bright, smiling faces.
My wife fetched the cookies, one for each happy pup
Hoping like heck that no fuss would erupt.
When the treat in her hand hit the floor with a clatter,
I sprang from the couch to see what was the matter.
Off to the kitchen I flew in a blink
But my wife just said “Leave it” before I could think.
My mind jumped back quickly to that day long ago
When we stopped using reprimands and stopped yelling “NO!”
I thought of the books that had showed us the trick
Of teaching behaviours with one little “click!”
All of those lessons from Pavlov and Skinner,
Like asking our dogs to work for their dinner,
Helped us avoid all those things we would dread
And teach the behaviours we wanted instead.
We learned about thresholds and how not to damage
The trust of our dogs. We learned how to manage.
We gave them a chance to learn to succeed
And to give them the time and incentives they need.
We learned that we humans didn’t have it quite right.
Our dogs were not wolves. There was no need to fight.
There wasn’t a question who was “leading the pack.”
We controlled all the good stuff, that was a fact.
It wasn’t about showing our dogs who was “boss.”
But rewarding their efforts with a toy we could toss.
Treats were good too, they were happily working
Without all that conflict, without all that jerking.
I thought back on how we had got it so wrong.
How we’d done things that way for so very long.
Behaviour and science and new ways to teach
Were there all the time, we just had to reach.
We had to let go of the tools that we had,
Despite all the “experts” who told us that’s bad.
A new way of thinking, a new way to train
Was good for our dogs, it was good for our brain.
So as my two dogs looked up with bright eyes
My wife got the cookie and then a surprise.
She gave them their treats, there was crunching and then
“Sit!” said my wife and she paid them again!
I was proud of my dogs, they knew just what to do.
Sometimes when you “leave it!” you just might get two!
Rewarding behaviours we wanted to see
Taught them that sometimes you get things for free.
Christmas reminds us it’s good to be kind.
We get what we give so keep that in mind.
Think of your dogs when it comes time to train.
You don’t have to teach them with fear or with pain.
So off to their bed went my dogs and my wife
And I smiled at my fortune, my wonderful life.
I wish you a holiday season of cheer
And wish you good training and a rewarding New Year!
Happy Holidays from all of us! Have fun with your dogs.
Eric, Petra, Rizzo and Tiramisu
The NEW Canine Nation ebook is now available –
“Relationships: Life with Dogs”
Photo credits –