Patience is…An article by Peg Demaine, ABC Certified Dog Trainer

Posted: March 21, 2010 in Uncategorized

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As most of us adults have found, by the time we reach our late thirties to mid-forties, patience is either waxing, or waning- kind of like the phases of the moon.  There are quite a few events that can push our buttons, so to speak, and yet at other times we can look at the situation and say, “Gee, that really wasn’t so bad- why did I react that way?”

I’ve noticed in my Puppy Preschool classes that there are quite a few “Empty-nesters”, eager to start over with a puppy-style replacement.  While this can sometimes end in disaster, the fact that they come to class, and are diligent with the homework assignments tells me that they have, indeed, learned patience! 

Any big change to the status quo can help to teach patience, starting with the “Sibling Arrival”… Remember when you little sister or brother was born? It was great when Mom & babe were in the hospital- you got dad all to yourself! After the first few weeks of crying, diapers, spit-up, and not much sleep, you probably asked when the baby was leaving- like I did.  It took some practice, but learning to wait to talk to Mom or Dad when the baby was quiet really helped to ease me into big sister-hood.

As we got older, my sisters and I shared a bedroom (a TRUE test of patience).  Although we had our share of fights, we were always there to back each other up if someone else tried to pick on one of us.  The preternatural skills I got from watching Mom handle us three crazy kids come in handy now in very many ways. 

I’ve used my patience skills as a mom to two boys, ages 9 & 18, as a school bus driver of 20 years for the public school system in a local town, and, of course, in my dog training classes.

Handling a bus full of rowdy elementary students on a sunny Friday afternoon can be trying- I’m sure you’ve seen the harried driver trying to get them to sit down at a stoplight!  While definitely the job for just anyone, it takes true patience and consistency to get the results that you would see on my bus. One of the skills taught to us in passenger management courses is to actually listen to your students.  Also, when faced with a child that is acting out, use the old Broken-Record method… by repeating what you need the student to do, and allowing them to talk, they eventually give up, and do as they were asked.

With a dog, the opposite is true.  You should ask for a behavior once (e.g. Sit) and wait!! By waiting in silence, you tell your dog that you expect something- and they need to figure it out!  If you do the whole broken-record thing with a dog, they only hear, “Blah-blah-rusty-blah” which they choose to ignore- or worse, join you in your “barking” session!  So, as you can see, Patience and consistency are crucial in all walks of life.  Sometimes our excitement over holidays, weddings, parties, and meeting someone important, as I will be doing on Sunday can interfere with our patience!

Sunday afternoon my dog & I will be meeting with a very special group- Luke Robinson and his two Great Pyrs, Hudson and Murphy. They have been traveling on foot for the past two years, leaving from Austin, Tx. They are walking to Boston, Ma. They want to help find a cure and raise awareness for Canine Cancer. 

I have been following their journey online since they left, and poor Murphy has had problems.  He was unable to walk with Luke for a while due to an injury, so my dog and I are logging” miles for Murphy”, and are trying to help make up those miles he missed out on.  Luke lost a dog to cancer a few years ago, and hates the thought of anyone having to go through what he did… so, he walks. 

How brave, courageous, and truly patient is this man? His motto is, “Puppy up!” and he keeps on going! I only wish I could do more to help- but I refuse to get frustrated! I’m patient, too, you see… I know good things will come of this. We’ll meet on Sunday, he’ll continue on his way, and I’ll continue to teach patience to all who ask…

They say, “Life is simple- but nobody ever said it was easy!” A deep breath, a calm tone of voice and backing up to try again later are credos that we all should live by. I hope my words here have helped, in some small way, to teach you patience…

Margaret Demaine 
ABC Certified Dog Trainer 
14 Forest Avenue 
Shelton, Ct. 06484 
(203) 556-1939

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