Thursday, 17 June 2010

Commanding Respect

Today I was talking to a colleague about respect . We were talking about how certain teachers command immediate silence when they walk into a room whilst others have to ask for silence and some have to beg for it and never get it! Now I'm more of the second type, I do not command immediate silence when I enter a room but I can get it with minimum fuss. 

The more I've thought about this over the past year or so the more I've compared it to dog training. Okay, I don't mean to offend the dogs but children and dogs have many things in common. Like dogs children react well to calm assertiveness. They need a pack leader and feel safe and secure when they have rules and routines.

At this point you may think I'm barking mad but think about it for a minute. They say that dogs can smell fear. Well, I think the same can be said for children. Children will test you and push you to your limits and past them if you allow them to. Children need rules and routines to feel safe and secure. They may not like the rules and routines but enforcement of rules and routines makes everyone know where they stand. When you don't enforce the rules everything gets confused and no-one knows where they stand.

Have you ever seen one of those mums at the check out counter with the child screaming for some sweets ? Okay let's see. Child screams and the mum says no and the  child screams some more and then the mum says no and the child screams some more and then the child screams some more and then, the mum says YES. Well, this reminds me of dog training. Imagine the situation.Leahn and Molly (Molly being the canine part of the team). Leahn says"Sit" and raises her finger in that Barbara Woodhouse way. Molly looks around and sniffs the air. Leahn says "Sit" again. Dog trainer comes over takes Molly from her position and walks on. Dog trainer says"sit" and Molly sits. Done. It's all in the voice and the body language she tells me.

Molly and Dog trainer one point Leahn zero.

Children and Dogs have more in common than you think. Both need:

  • Calm assertive leaders
  • Rules and routines
  • Consistency
  • Love 
  • Fun and entertainment
  • Toys and affection

A failure to meet these standards may result in a shift in the balance of power. Please see picture.

Molly, Bruno and Little Joe have taken over the sofa and I find myself sitting on the dog bed. Where, oh where have I gone wrong?


  1. Hi Leahn

    What a fantastic post! I can associate with what you have written in terms of the dog training part. I am currently looking after our 3 dogs on my own. I have to ask them 2-3 times to sit down before they are allowed to go to their feeding bowls full of foood or go out for their walk. K my hubby only needs to look at them, without saying a word, and they will sit down quietly and wait for his signal to eat or leave their area.

    The difference in their behaviour is that they are not afraid of me. When they were puppies, I was afraid of them! I had never been in contact with dogs before and I must admit, I kept away from the girls at first, until I gradually got used to them. They see me as being a bit "soft" so they try to bend the rules. With K, he is very strict with them but he ticks all the categories you have listed above. Above all, they respect him deeply.

    You've summed it up perfectly. It's all in the voice and body language, whether you are dealing with children or dogs. Thanks so much for sharing this post.

    What a lovely picture of your 3 dogs! They look very content indeed.

    Best wishes


  2. Very funny Leahn, but true! I don't have much experience of dogs but I'm sure everything that you say here is right. I definitely don't get silence when I walk into a room - probably because the kids (thankfully) aren't scared of me, but we do generally have a good relationship and they do as I ask, even if sometimes I do have to ask (or tell) more than once.

    I really enjoyed reading this post!

  3. Hi Janet,

    Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. It's very much appreciated. Molly was our first rescue dog, then Bruno (found in a sack in the rubbish with eight others when they were 10 days old) and finally Joe who was left in a neighbours garden and promptly moved in! That's not mentioning Maya who I found on the way home from work 6 weeks or so ago.

    The cats (all five) agree with us about the dogs. They themselves behave like teenagers' rather than children. They are all love and affection when they want you to take them clothes shopping or to a friends house and the rest of the time they ignore you!

    I wish I were more like K. Mine are relatively well beahved in public but at home they're animals. You'll be pleased to know they approve of the new sofa we've bought and have given it the thumbs up.

    Take care Janet pat the dogs and stroke the cats for me! and like you said it's all in the body language...


  4. Hi Michelle,

    I've been going on to my friends Sally and Lesley about dogs and children for ages (have to contribute to the discussions on children and parenting somehow) I'm sure she secretly thinks I'm mad, but the similarities are definitely there! Glad you enjoyed the post this was a more 'me' style of writing... (actually just sat down before I went to bed and penned my thoughts)thinking of doing a slot about dogs and children. What do you think?


  5. Hi Leahn

    Thanks for your lovely response! I calculate you have 9 animals in total in your menagerie? That is a lot to look after!

    Go for the post you mention to Michelle. I would be very interested in reading it to gain more insight into the similarities.

    As Sofia was openly disobeying me yesterday (normally she is very good), I kept on thinking about your post. I stood in front of her and calmly raised my voice and said "Drop that Sofia, now!" "That" refers to something which looked yucky and had been found in the jungle area. It looked like a half mangled bit of an undefined animal. I'm afraid she totally ignored me and that got me down momentarily. I then I started shouting the same order. She started growling in a way that meant "Do not disturb".

    I knew I would get nowhere at this stage and so I left her to carry the horrible thing to her pen. Later it had all been devoured(as if we don't feed her enough!)and she looked as if butter wouldn't melt in her mouth. She sweetly followed my instruction to sit while I did the food bowls and all was well.

    So any illuminating tips in the form of a comparative study as you have suggested above, would be gratefully received!!

    Best wishes


  6. Hi Leahn

    Thanks for your reply! You also have a great menagerie that probably keeps you very busy indeed! I think you should definitely write the post you have suggested above, as I would be very interested in reading it!

  7. What a great post, Leahn! My daughter used to ask me if I talked to her the same way I talked to the dog, or if I talked to the dog the same way I talked to her. Either way, she saw the connection :-)

  8. Thanks Barbara,

    That made me smile! Lucky daughter and lucky dog.

  9. Just read this now, very good, the comment about not offending dogs, did you laugh to yourself when you wrote it? I did!

  10. Hi David,

    I spend most of my time laughing at my own jokes so, I probably was laughing to myself as I scribbled this late one night at my kitchen table!


  11. My dogs are like yours! They have taken all three sofas! Great post and totally agree...have a great day!

  12. Just posted a link to this on the TeachingEnglish facebook page

    Feel free to post there directly whenever you'd like to share with us.



  13. Hi Ann,

    I'm glad you liked the post. I've taken control of the new sofa by means of mouse traps, it works. As I speak, all the dogs are asleep on their beds. Just, have to train the cats now. They're going to be more of a challenge I think.

    Thanks for commenting and thanks for posting the link, much appreciated.