How to Train Your X

By Jerry D. Patillo, CPDT-KA, 2012

No, this is not an article on how to train your “ex.” God help you with that one! The following is an excerpt from a book on having an x as a family pet. It’s an excerpt on how to train your x.

What’s an x? It doesn’t matter. X could be your dog, your cat, your horse, your llama, your husband (maybe?), your chinchilla, your hedgehog, or your African Gray parrot. It doesn’t matter. In the article below, substitute “dog” for x and “dogs” for xs. The following principles still apply, regardless of the species.

Here’s the excerpt:

It is most important that you train your x to become a respectful member of the society in which it lives. If you fail to do this, it will surely become an undisciplined pet that will create so many problems for you that you may even wish you had never obtained it. The end result of this situation is that the animal will either be banished to an outdoor pen or you will try to sell or otherwise pass it off to some unsuspecting person wishing to own one of these pets. Already, I [the original author] have read that some x owners, unable to cope with these pets in large cities, have simply taken their x to a park or the country and let it loose! [Sound familiar, dog lovers?] These people, if they could be traced, should be abandoned for life from ever owning even a goldfish.

. . .

Your x learns in exactly the same way as do all other creatures. It utilizes its memory and applies what it has learned to events as they occur. These new experiences are placed into its memory and create an even larger bank of information on which it can draw. The greater the number of situations it has met over its life, the greater its ability to react to situations, and the more intelligent it appears to be. However, this assumes that the way it has been taught to react has been consistent. If this is not so, it simply becomes a very confused pet – and a confused animal can be dangerous, just as a confused person can be.

Memory is a determinant factor in how intelligent a particular creature may be. On this basis, xs are pretty clever animals, and so they are relatively easily trained in simple tasks. Their limitations are more a reflection of their owners’ shortcomings than of their own abilities. Human failings include lack of patience and consistency [emphasis mine], and the tendency to misunderstand a situation. We also often attempt to apply human thinking to another animal species or to anthropomorphize their actions [attribute their actions with human characteristics].

All animals react instinctively to situations. Such a response is automatic and requires no high degree of thinking. It is part of an involuntary survival strategy. If you touch a hot plate, you do not stop to ask yourself if you should move your hand away. You instinctively do this. Memory of any stimuli is passive (neutral), positive [pleasant or rewarding], or negative [unpleasant or punishing]. All animals respond to stimuli in one of these three forms.

So, what is an x? For the answer and for the source of the above excerpt, please click here: