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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 40.djvu/248

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

THE TRAINING OF DOGS.[1]
By WESLEY MILLS, M. D.

AN analysis of our own psychic life, complex as much of it is, compared with that of the dog, shows that a great part of our mental processes are not concerned with abstractions and generalizations of a very high order, but with actual concrete perceptions and conceptions; that we think in pictures rather than words; that our thoughts are the result of past associations; that the machinery of the mind or brain is so connected that when one part is moved, so to speak, a whole series of connections are established. Hence the psychic life of every creature must be related essentially to its past experiences.

If this be true—and it can not be doubted—we think, then, the puppy's intelligence, like our own, begins to develop, and continues to do so exactly in relation to its environment. We can make that environment pretty much what we will; and with the dog, his master from the first, and always, is the principal factor.

Two extreme views have for a long period been entertained in regard to the training of the dog; the one that he is a wild, wayward creature to be "broken," the other that he needs no special correction if properly taught from the first. Neither is quite correct.

A puppy full of life tends to do exactly as his impulses move him, till the highest motive power, a desire to please his master, is substituted. It follows that a puppy can not be too soon led to understand that he has a master—kind, honest, intelligent, and firm. He must be consistent with his puppy. All caprice i& fatal; it utterly confuses and demoralizes the dog.

Remembering that principle we laid down long ago, that the dog is very like ourselves, we can indicate a few principles for training that we think will meet the test of experience. The puppy at one period is like a young infant, later like a two-year-old child, and at the best most dogs never get beyond the intelligence of a young child in most respects, though in some qualities the wisest man is far behind the dog.

For practical purposes the puppy may be treated as an infant, but as a rapidly developing one. He gets his information through his senses, and his training must be related to this, and to the fact that he is a creature with strong impulses but little self-control.

It is a well-established law of the nervous system that what has happened once is likely to occur again under the same circum-


  1. From advance sheets of the author's book. The Dog in Health and Disease, in preparation by D. Appleton & Co.