It still amazes me when I’m reading a parenting book…and the advice given is almost word for word the exact same advice as the last dog behavior book I read. I’m actually not even sure why I still get a kick out of it – it happens so often. Apparently – when it comes to psychology – toddlers and dogs aren’t so far apart.
(No, I’m not suggesting you crate train your kiddo.)
I just finished The Happiest Toddler on the Block. The Happiest Baby on the Block is pretty much required reading for every new mom. Seriously. (And for good reason, too. Dr. Karp’s advice is spot on – hence why I picked up the sequel to help me understand how to keep Sebastian happy.)
Dr. Karp advises parents to make sure that their toddlers go outside every day. “Every” day – he is sure to remind his readers – is “EVERY” day. Toddlers won’t die (or even catch cold) from going out for short amounts of time even if it is raining, cold, windy, snowing, hot, etc. The psychological benefits are worth the bundling or being slightly uncomfortable. We as a species have not primarily resided inside single-family, four-walled, covered structures for all that long. If you look back at the history of humanity – the majority of it took place outside…or in a cave…it is in our nature to be more comfortable (happier???) outside. (Think of that blissful moment when you office workers step out for lunch and feel the sun on your face.) Dr. Karp explains your toddler might be unhappy simply because you are forcing him into an unnatural physical situation.
DOGS ARE THE SAME!
Maybe even more so! Dogs were built to be outside. They spent most of their evolutionary lives on the move. They don’t like to go for walks….they NEED to go for walks. They NEED to be outside.
Often pup parents try to over think it when their dogs start acting out (chewing, biting…any destructive behavior, really). Nine times out of ten – they are just bored and/or frustrated. You are forcing them into an unnatural physical situation. Your dog wasn’t meant to be kept in a box!
Obviously, you cannot walk your dog for 8 hours a day to fulfill his nomadic tendencies. Nor am I suggesting you take your sweet, spoiled pooch and suddenly decided she will primarily be an “outdoor dog.” What I am advising (and I’m no doctor or vet…so no one has given me an authority to give advice) is that you go outside with your pup AND your kid EVERY day. Even if it’s raining and you all have to towel everyone off when you come back inside. Even if it’s only while you thumb through the junk mail. Even if it’s only for 10 minutes!
If for no other reason that this: a tired dog/toddler is a happy dog/toddler!