I had to travel on an extremely busy train yesterday; the only place left to stand was in a tiny corridor together with father and a son. Since I didn’t have my phone or a book with me I kept myself busy observing the little boy. He was 3 maybe 4 years old and he would not sit still. His father let him explore the corridor, he held him to the window so the boy could see cows outside, manipulate different parts of the train. He had a little coin that he would throw on the floor, and once he realised I would hand him the coin back a game has started. He would hold the coin, look at me and then throw it as far as he could (which was pretty much always by my feet) and I would lift it and give it back to him. You should see the spark in his eyes when he realised that he could influence my behaviour with that coin. It is lovely to watch young animals figuring out how the world works. How their actions influence their reality and behaviour of others. Boy’s father was doing great job supporting his explorations. He did not try to force him to sit still, or to be quiet as many parents do. He was engaged in interactions with his son. He was responsive and supportive. And that’s how I try to act with the puppies. We need to realise that a young brain needs to explore, needs to be curious in order to develop to it’s full potential. Why would we expect a young dog or a young child for that matter to sit still? Maybe because we, as adults lost our ability to see wonder in simple things. But young animals have not. Train is such an interesting phenomena; it has a mixture of different smells, textures, and sounds.
Too often we bring our dogs in interesting or strange places and expect them to ‘behave’, silly human term as we actually expect them not to behave at all; sit still, lay still, be quiet. I doubt there is a single person who would think that this little boy from the train would not be able to sit quietly on the train when he grows up. That would be ridiculous right? But yet we often expect adult behaviours from puppies. There is time and place for everything, and yes learning self-control is important part of growing up. But recently I have a feeling we focus way too much on controlling the puppies, teaching them all the skills we expect from adults while we often forget to let them be just what there are; puppies. Rushing from one class to another, making sure we visit a market place, coffee place, city centre and all other important socialization spots, while we forget sometimes it is enough to just stand still together, to watch world passing by. Puppies need time to absorb information; their brains need time to process what they experience not just run by all the places on the list. It is very important to listen to what they are telling us, let them take control of where you will go sometimes. We might actually discover something new; learn more about who our puppy is.