Dog talk with Uncle Matty: Doggie preschool

By From page A7 | January 17, 2013


Right now, in Manhattan, a young mother is suing a preschool for, among other things, the return of the $19,000 tuition she paid in advance for the pre-education of her 4-year-old. For one year. One preschool year.

In ever-rising numbers, parents are buying into the idea that admission to an elite preschool is a must — the gateway to the Ivy League, assurance that your child will lead a “winning” life.
Yet so many of these same adults fail to grasp the importance of educating their dogs on even the most basic level. Money is often the reason — and in light of certain early education costs, I can see how greenbacks might be in short supply.
But it seems the worse the behavioral problem the greater the resistance to training. In these cases — talking about aggression here — an even more powerful force behind the resistance is that people just don’t want to believe their dog is aggressive.
Take the woman whose 2-year-old dog bit her husband, her child and her. Knowing that, she placed the dog in her niece’s lap. And he bit her. Knowing that, she set her dog down on a friend’s lap. He bit her in the face.
When I asked her why she would do that, she hemmed and hawed and finally said it: “I don’t want to believe my dog is aggressive.”
A woman with an aggressive pit bull mix put off dealing with it for two years —calling it assertiveness, playing it down, deeming it everything other than what it was — and now she’s pregnant. Suddenly, she wants to “fix” a dog that can never be trusted around a baby. She let the aggression go on too long.
Last week a man called me up and said, “My dog is a problem.” Refreshing, I thought to myself, calling it what it is. He told me that his dog just bit him. But during the course of the discussion, it came out that the dog had sunk his teeth into the man’s 15-year-old daughter two weeks prior. I asked him why he hadn’t called me then, and he said, “It wasn’t that bad of a bite. Mine was bad.”
Where I get confused is at the point where these two phenomena intersect. Why would a parent invest $19,000 in a child’s preschool education — in the hopes that it will ultimately lead to elite post-graduate education — only to risk the child being mauled by the vicious dog he comes home to?
Why would anyone spend 20 grand to make sure their kid recites her ABCs the best, but refuse to invest as little as $19.99 on a dog training video that could prevent serious behavioral problems from wreaking havoc on her home life?
I don’t know what to say about the exorbitant cost of preschool education today. But I do know that an early education for your dog won’t break the bank and is well worth the price.
Dog trainer Matthew “Uncle Matty” Margolis is the co-author of 18 books about dogs, a behaviorist, a popular radio and television guest, and the host of the PBS series “WOOF! It’s a Dog’s Life!” Read all of Uncle Matty’s columns at, and visit him at Send your questions to [email protected] or by mail to Uncle Matty at PO Box 3300, Diamond Springs 95619.

Matthew Margolis

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