Saturday, January 9, 2010

Little Men and being part of the pack

Before we decided to get a dog we (okay I) did all kinds of reading about it.  That's what I do.  And, I read all the many ways to train a dog.  It is kind of a vast subject. (who knew?)  The really "hip" way of training a dog has to do with pack behavior and maintaining an Alpha role with your dog.  Have you heard of this? two things about this.  First of all, I have serious doubts.  Not because I think it is ineffective, but it is not very practical.  For example, one of the things they say is important to always do to teach your dog that you are the Alpha is to never allow them to walk through a door before you.  You are always to lead.  Ok.  Seems easy enough, right?  Well, now imagine that you have four littles under the age of 7 and they are all bundled up and one of them is so small that you are carrying him in your arms and you have mittens on and the dog is on the leash that you are holding but one of the boys has run ahead and opened the door.  You know what is going to happen don't you?  Let's just say, it doesn't involve you calmly going through the door first to exert your leadership position. 

And secondly, this philosophy says nothing about being kind to your dog.  Does this count for nothing?  Are they saying she doesn't remember that I am the one who pets her and loves her and walks her and feeds her?  Or rather that she just remembers who goes through the door first more?  I don't know.  I just don't buy it 100%.  (feel free to disagree with me.)  And don't worry...I am making sure to do all the things that an Alpha would do whenever I possibly can.  But I'm not sure the dog believes me.

Having 4 boys has taught me a lot about pack behavior.  People who do not have three or more boys do not fully understand this.  Who am I kidding, I don't even understand this!  But I see it everyday and it amazes me and confuses me, entertains me and saddens me all at the same time.  Why must they continually be vying for who is "top dog"?  Why can't they just be kind to one another?

Since we homeschool these little men I feel like it is my responsibility to understand this more.  After all, how can I teach them when I do not understand their struggles?  Or how to effectively communicate to them about any of this? So I decided to do some research about boys and men and find out some answers to some of the things I just don't know about.  I found out some interesting things.  Did you know......?

-that boys have fewer cones in their eyes, which means they are not able to see as many colors as girls (and the colors may not be as vibrant to them)
-boys use only one side of their brain for verbalizing, girls use both sides (which is why boys have trouble talking about their feelings)
-boys learn gross motor skills before verbalizing skills (generally speaking) and you can't do both at the same time because the same part of the brain is used for both in boys 
-boys hear less well than girls (i can't remember why, but it had to do with processing and words and the brain..)
-boys smell less well than girls in general, but they are now determining that the sense of smell can be developed with practice...just like dogs!
-boys are comfortable at a lower temperature than girls (how do they know this?) 68degrees v. 72 degrees
-boys tend to think in verbs instead of in nouns. you can see this in their artwork often.  boys tend to draw actions. (YES they do! at least in my experience here w/ these little men)

There were more, but I can't remember them all.  I want to keep these in mind as I teach them.  The one that I thought was so interesting was about verbalizing feelings.  There is actually a physical reason for this!  The books I read suggested instead of saying..."how does that make you feel?" ... try "what does that make you want to do?"  Hmmmm....interesting...i would've never thought of that.  Oh, right...I'm a girl. 

ps. the camera is officially dead. :(  Sorry no pics today.


  1. very interesting...what are you reading?

  2. indeed, i too want to know your sources. i wonder if some of those things have developed over time to be the way things are - if traditional gender roles have developed over time through behavior that has become the physiological norm. and how then do we account for the growing population of people that recognize that they do not fit into either side of a gender binary and choose to live differently? i am intrigued.