Balancing Your Canine Parenting

She doesn’t wait for a reply. "Of course not,” she says. "And it’s the same way in dog training classes. Men are cavemen. They don’t want to appear weak, so they don’t ask. They just plow right ahead. And that’s another thing: Men have no patience.”

Haggerty-Brennan is the author of Woman’s Best Friend: Choosing and Training the Dog That’s Right for You. She adds, "Men want instant gratification. They won’t wait for a dog to think things through step by step. If the dog doesn’t get it instantly, they reprimand, and harsher than women do. Some men get physical, punishing dogs for not understanding, which can cause a problem in the way the dog relates to men. Men overcompensate.”

I find it psychologically interesting to hear all this from the daughter of illustrious dog trainer Captain Arthur Haggerty, the guy who may well be the all-time testosterone fueled king of dog trainers. Still, when asked, she concedes that women aren’t perfect dog trainers either. "They have their issues too,” she says. "Women can be too patient and indecisive. While some men to correct dogs too harshly, sometimes women don’t correct at all. Or they baby the dogs, making matters worse. It’s fine to love dogs, but they’re dogs, not our babies.”

Is this Mars vs. Venus premise a whole lot of sexist rubbish? Haggerty-Brennan, who trains dogs in South Florida, says at least in her own classes there is a huge divide between the way men and women respond to their dogs. And she says other dog trainers agree.

She adds that the biggest issue is clients who let their ego get in the way of dog training. "Training is supposed to be about communicating with the dog, not about you. Let go of the ego, take anything you’re trying to teach the dog one step at a time, and be patient.” And-no surprise-she believes women are better at this than men.

Haggerty-Brennan adds that in most families, dog training is the woman’s responsibility. "When it comes to training dogs, consistency is very important. So if the husband is doing it one way-his own way-and the woman are doing what we’ve instructed in class, the result will be one confused dog.”

So the real solution here is not for men to train like women-or women to train like men. It is for everyone in the family to train consistently and fairly. By balancing those impulses to control a dog with the desire to baby him, you end up being firm but kind, a loving leader to your dog.