Training Your Inner Puppy

Training Your Inner Puppy

August 2, 2019 2 By Nancy Oehlert

Youth is so energetic! So exuberant! So time-consuming! So messy…and exhausting. 

Trying to focus on writing when there are two new puppies in the house is nearly impossible.

The pups, Chip and Penny, are precious, but accidents happen. It’s fun to play with and teach them, but they have a tendency to run without watching where they’re going. They often run into people or furniture. Occasionally, they end up walking through their own filth. 

It’s sweet to watch Chip and Penny huddling for warmth, sharing food and water bowls, sleeping in a furry pile. We laugh as they chase each other while running circles around the coffee table.  

But there are those occasions when they get really rough with each other. A fun chase turns into growling, nipping, and a yelp. The quest for a toy, blanket, or sleeping space becomes a wrestling match. It’s concerning to watch them get rough with each other. We’re consulting books written by  ‘experts’ on how to discourage the negative behaviors.

Chip and Penny have been with us for just a few weeks. I’m learning that puppies and people can be a lot alike. 

Stop biting!

One minute they’re tumbling and playing. The next, someone is biting a brother or sister on the back of the leg or on the neck. Someone yelps. They sit back and stare at each other for a moment. From there, they might go right back to wrestling. Or, if it hurts badly enough, the injured one runs to their  ‘Person’ for support, wanting to be held as they lick their wounds. They need comfort and reassurance. 

Occasionally, the ‘aggressor’ comes over to check on the one they’ve hurt, sniffing and nudging at them. On rare occasions, they will lick at the ‘owwie’, too. But more often, they simply go on with whatever they were doing before the offense occurred. Their attitude seems to be, “Life goes on, eh?” 

Sadly, I’ve seen similar behavior among brothers and sisters in Christ. 

The books we’re reading warn us that if a pup is injured severely or often, it will begin to withdraw to their bed or another safe spot and hide. We’re learning that if puppies are regularly allowed to be too aggressive in play, it becomes a part of their adult personality.  

Again, a lot like people, right? We can be unkind, even cruel. We sometimes refuse to pay attention to what our master commands. We ignore his voice, running in the opposite direction. What does our ‘Book’ say?

“‘The entire law is summed up in a single command: Love your neighbor as yourself.’ If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”  Galatians 5:14-15

Their  ‘Person’ 

Puppies are curious about new things. But new or different can also be scary and threatening. New people, new places and activities, another dog barking, sudden loud noises scare them and send them running to the safety of their ‘person’. 

 Are you fascinated by the ‘latest and greatest’?  Has the bark or bite of another ever sent you off on your own? Have you ever made a mess and then had to ’walk through it’? If so, who do you run to when you’re scared? Who’s your ‘person’?

If something falls on Chip or Penny while they’re tugging at it, this falls into the category of  SUPER scary. Puppies don’t understand ‘cause and effect’, but we find ourselves asking them, “What did you think would happen when you were tugging on that?”

Outdoors, they take off on their own, many times at a dead run. This is predictably followed by them taking a tumble over or into something. They pick themselves up, temporarily stunned.  They look around as if to say, “How did THAT happen?”

Hey friends, if we’re tugging on things we shouldn’t, wandering or running away from God, or not listening to his voice, we need to watch out. That’s how we wind up stumbling and falling. That’s how we get hurt.

I’ve tugged at a few things in my life and had them come piling down on me. I’ve been called in one direction and gone running in another. I’ve taken a few tumbles. And even when I did my best to appear shocked at the results, deep down, I knew I had brought it on myself. Can you relate?

Speed can affect their ability to hear.

Much like human youngsters, puppies don’t hear well when they’re running. They bolt from one fascinating object to another. They won’t respond to commands. When this happens, we try to get their attention by clapping our hands and saying a firm “No!” This usually results in their compliance. However, there are those times when several attempts to re-direct them go unheeded and we’re forced to correct them by shaking their neck or tapping them on the nose.  We all hate to do it, but for everyone’s safety and well-being, it’s imperative that they learn to listen and obey.  

Have you ever been ‘shaken’ spiritually?

Have you ever been so caught up in what you’re doing that you leave God behind, unable or unwilling to hear his commands? Did he have to shout to get your attention? Have you ignored the Lord until he had to discipline you?  For your safety and well-being, it’s imperative that you learn to listen and obey. God is a good father and “…the Lord disciplines those he loves.”  Proverbs 3:12, Hebrews 12:6

Is there an issue in which you’ve gone your own way? Are you pulling and tugging at something you need to walk away from? Are you listening for his voice or running blindly in another direction? Have you ever wandered off  and ignored God’s voice for so long that you wound up hurt and alone in silence? 

Stay close, listen, obey, leave harmful things alone, and be blessed!  

Chip and Penny are a lot of work, but they are precious puppies and a blessing to our family. We, too, can be a blessing, a gift to God and to others.  Imagine the difference it would make if we all committed to ‘playing nicely’ with and looking out for our brothers and sisters. How many wounds and hurts could we prevent if we reminded each other that running off takes us away from our source of help, our shelter, and provision? Let’s each decide to lovingly encourage one another to ‘stay nearby’.