Friday, July 30, 2010

Dog Study Works on Kids too!

There's a new study out which asserts that all dogs imitate their owners. Oh, so it's my fault is it? Everyone knows I pee outside my elder son's bedroom when I think no one's looking, strip garden bushes down to the stub for a laugh (see left), and run away from my family members whenever I get the opportunity. (OK, well perhaps that one....)

It's quite an interesting study and explains that dogs do this automatic imitation thing, whereby (for example) if you train them to open a door with their heads and their paws, they will choose the method they see their owners employing. I don't know many people who open doors with their heads, but still.

Even more interesting is that people do this too.  I quote:

It's long been known that humans do this, even when the tendency to copy interferes with efficiency.

"For example," according to the researchers, "if people are instructed to open their mouths as soon as they see the letters 'OM' appear on a screen, responses are slower when the letters are accompanied by an image of an opening hand than when they are accompanied by an image of an opening mouth."

So basically, the sight of the opening hand confuses them a bit. Hmmmmm., let's see how I put this knowledge to use in the Expat abode:

- giving teenage boy instructions while pointing to offending pile of wet clothes on the floor is obviously confusing him. From now on I will stand in front of him, look directly into his eyes and keep my entire body still while I shout. Well, there might be smoke coming out of my ears.....

- pointing to the dishwasher while simultaneously finishing my dinner, and telling 7 year old to eat more will not get the teens to put their plates in. Again, need to lock them into eye contact and not flail about.

- trying to communicate to the Ball & Chain that I can't hold a conversation while brushing my teeth needs to be a one gesture event. No pointing at the toothbrush, furrowing brow and making shouty gargling sounds. A firm slam of the bathroom door should suffice.

Since I've spent the last three months trying to train a very headstrong dog, I learned very quickly that the more words you use, the less likely she is to do anything at all. Obviously the same with humans.

Who knew?


  1. ROTFL......

    Nor do I jump on a little blue tray in a cage!
    Between us, we must have some very funny habits that are pets are picking up!
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  2. Dogs will be dogs for sure, and teenagers will be teenagers. Having had both and dismally failed to make a huge amount of progress, I wish you good luck!

  3. Not THAT is a load of crap! (The study.)Your response though is hysterical.

  4. I do sometimes amuse myself with the thought that my dog plays games on the PS3 and lies on the coach with a beer while I'm at work.
    Good luck with the basic commands - I'm going to try them myself. It's got to better than nagging.

  5. Knew I didn't NEED a dog the moment The Little Guy came into my life. The exhaustion I suffer from trying to wear him out every day is uncannily similar as are his response to commands. I know who's Alpha dog in this house!

    By a quirky coincidence I too was in London on 3rd July, but falling out of an underground train not a restaurant. Had totally forgotten just how packed those things get during the rush hour!

  6. I should try this on my toddler who does pee outside bedroom doors.

  7. That's why I had 2 dogs for 5 years before having my son....I needed all the training (for me) I could get.

  8. If you could see our dog at the moment only the cruellest person in the world would say she was anything like me!
    and as for damp clothes on the floor, hey, that's your job isn't it!

  9. lol totally identify with this, although right now I seem to have no control over either offspring (who uses bedroom floor as a closet/recyling bin) and dog, who has eaten so many bras and knickers I'm starting to run out of underwear. That might be too much information, btw.

  10. LOL! Thanks for the tip. Will employ dog training tactics with daughter from now on.

  11. Ooh. Just heard a thing on radio 4 where B&B's are turning down blind dogs and their owners. The rotters. We don't do that! We LOVE dogs!

    P.S.: Just read the piece on you in the Journal/Chronicle last year. Well done you! :)

  12. Don't know where my cocker spaniel got his idea to scoff a WHOLE plate of flapjack and rocky road, or to roll in a dead rabbit just before my son's future (now present) in laws popped over to have a nice cup of tea and....oops, "nothing left to offer you to eat, sorry....and apologies about the pungent country smells".. Clearly I haven't had much luck training him, but I think I may have cracked it with the kids! (just)!


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