At one time, I worked as a live-in nanny in England. I got a family with a two-year-old girl, Sarah.
As I got there, first thing I noticed was that she could only say one word, "no".
It was her answer to any questions, the only thing she'd ever say.
"Sarah, do you want beans or chicken?"
"Sarah, how was your day?"
No matter what the question, the answer was always the same.
I didn't have much prior experience with little kids so I wasn't sure whether she should be able to talk more than that or not but I still found it strange that this would be her only word.
After the first day passed, I got "off duty;" her mother was home to take care of her. I quickly learned the reason. All I could hear up in my room was, "Sarah, no!" "Sarah, no!" "Sarah, no!" This went on the entire evening.
As it were, my job, besides getting her changed, cleaned up and fed, apparently was to keep her from doing things.
I too was expected to follow her around, shouting, "Sarah, no!"
There was nothing appropriate for her to do. The house was not set up for kids. Everything was precious, breakable or off limits. She had only two toys. Plastic alphabet pieces and a toy phone. Not surprisingly, they held no interest for her. The phone no longer made any noises and the alphabet pieces were just good enough to eat. They were supposed to get threaded on a string to form words.
Ironically, the "N" was missing.
What does one do with a two-year-old kid for 12 hours in a house where she cannot touch anything and cannot go outside?
I was pretty desperate. My main goal became getting her tired enough so she'd sleep when she was supposed to have a nap (which she hated) and then survive until her mother came home.
We spent most of the day playing catch, hide and seek and "riding down the stairs" on our butts.
In spite of my best efforts we still managed to get in trouble when I let her play with her father's little model car and she managed to jam it into a tape deck door. She was driving it around the room on the furniture and I felt it was harmless enough. It happened in a blink of an eye. She broke the slot and we were in a big doo doo.
I only lasted a week before I couldn't take it any more.
I asked for a transfer to a different family. Apparently that wasn't surprising; when the father came home at the end of the week and found out I was leaving, I heard him asking his wife, "What did you do to this one?"
Sadly, as it seems, that week Sarah had the most fun in her lifetime. And in that one week, she learned to say, "Where are you?" and a few other things from our play.
Today, I would be able to get more creative entertaining her. But my point is about the parallel to what we often do to our dogs.
A dog needs to do SOMETHING.
If we don't give them things to do, they'll find their own entertainment. Odds are we won't like their choice and end up chasing them around, shouting, "No!"
How many dogs out there think their name is "No", "Stop That" or the like?
How many dogs think that the only way they can get our attention is by getting into trouble? To a dog, any attention is better than none.
Let's save ourselves and our dogs the frustration. Let's give them things to do, teach them things we want. Let's allow them to learn their actual names.
Does your dog know their name?
From The End Of A Lead Line To Casa Jasmine: Meet Cookie, Our New Adoptee
Creative Solutions And An Incidental Product Review
Taming Of The Wild Beast: Cookie's Transition To Civilization
Staying On Top Of The Ears: Cookie Is Not Impressed
Who's Training Whom? Stick And Treat
Observation Skills Of Dogs
If You Want Your Dog To Do Something, Teach It
Tricks? It's Not Just About The Tricks
What Constitutes The Perfect Dog?
Are Dog Training Classes Really For The Dogs?
Look Where You Want To Go: Finding My Reactive Dog Training Zen Zone?
Dog Training And Emotions
Dog Training And Emotions: Postscript
Dogs Love Sentences In Question Form?
Not All Dog Trainers Were Created Equal Either
A Thought On Separation Anxiety
Happy One-Year Adoptoversary, Cookie!
About Freedom, Trust And Responsibility: A "Pilot Study"
So, We Have A Bear
About Happiness: What Makes Your Dog Happy?
Our Example Of The Use Of "Look At That" (LAT)
Why Do Dogs Dig?
Who Is In The Wrong?
Your Dog Wants To Follow You. You Just Gotta Be Going Some Place
We Still Have Two Dogs: A "Pilot Study" Part Two
Early Winter Safety: Exploring New Territories
Cookie Is Okay. We ... Might Be, Eventually. (Don't Try This At Home)
One Thing I Love About Winter: I See What They "See"
Give Your Dog What They Need, Get What You Want
Cookie, The First Of The Great Hunting Rottweilers
Distance Is a Relative Concept
Dog Communication: Be Good to Cookie or She'll Tell on You
The Benefit of the Doubt
Putting The Guilty Dog Look To Rest?
The Stench of Fear: Is There Good and Bad Timing for Vet Visits?
I am a Helicopter Dog Mom
Routines: Easy Come, Hard to Go
Things Always Change: Cookie's Hunting Adventures
The Advantage of Your Dog Not Barking All the Time: Cookie Saves Horses' Asses
"Look at That" (LAT) Game and Barking at Traffic
The Role of Thresholds in Dog Training and Behavior
Dog Days of Summer: Keeping an Eye on Cookie
Dog Days of Summer: Cookie Gets Her SprinklerThe Evolution of My View on What Is and Isn't Dirty
Not F***ing Cheerios, That's for Sure