Friday, June 11, 2004

On dogs and children

Good Dog, Better Man - How your pet can improve your morals. By Jon Katz
In theory, I understand that the proper training response to Orson's poop-eating is to ignore it. It's perfectly natural for a dog, especially a working breed with predatory instincts, to eat animal feces. To a dog, feces are aromatic and tasty and often stuffed with nutrients. Anyway, the more I yell, the more I reinforce the behavior, so the longer it continues. Dogs don't really differentiate between good attention and bad attention; they just like attention, perhaps more than anything except food. So I know—again in theory—that if I ignore Orson and move onto something else—like actually herding sheep—he will eventually lose interest and find some other way to annoy me and draw my notice. Yet I continued to yell.

And so true of some children ...

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