[intro music]

Announcer:  You train a puppy with love; kids, even more so. Mike tells stories about spending time with his little ones, hunting, fishing, and laughing.

Michael Pearl:  For instance, if you wanted to train your dog to bring the newspaper in and lay it beside your chair rather than chew it up, what you don’t do is don’t beat on your dog. You take that little puppy out with you when you go get the newspaper. You lead him out there to where the newspaper is. You let him smell of it and he’ll start to bite it. That’s natural for a young puppy, right? When he starts to bite, you just pull it out of his mouth. Pick the newspaper up, lead him back inside, lay the paper down beside the chair, let him smell of it, pull him back away from it, sit down in your chair, read your newspaper, pat your dog.

Your dog feels real good. He’s being trained, but he doesn’t know that. But he feels real good. He’s had a good day.

Now, the next day, you do the same thing. You do that for about three or four weeks or a month or something and that dog will stop chewing on that paper. He knows he’s pulled away every time he chews on that paper. He’ll stop chewing on the paper. He’ll smell of it.

Then, you go out when he gets almost grown. You pick that paper up and you stick it in his mouth. You lead him inside. You bring him to where you want him to lay it down, you push his head down, you take it out of his mouth, and you pat him real good and you compliment him.

You do that for a couple of weeks. The day comes, you open the front door and you turn that dog loose, he runs out, he grabs that paper, he brings it in, he lays it down, and he wags his tail. [laughs] “Do you like me?” “You’re a fine dog; you’re a smart dog.”

How’d you train your dog? Like I said to a fellow one time—we were sitting at the dinner table. He had this little pup. I was about 18 years old. We’re eating steak. He cut off a little piece of steak and he laid it there on the floor.

His dog went and smelled of it, then sat down there like that. Just sat there, wagged his tail. I said, “What’s wrong? Dog sick?” He said, “No. He won’t eat it until I tell him to.” I said, “No. You’re kidding me.”

I had a whole bunch of hound dogs. I had several of them eat the saucer. You take something out to eat, you had to dump it out or they’ll eat the plate. Chomp, chomp, and it was gone. I couldn’t understand a dog that wouldn’t eat meat.

He makes this little sound with his cheek [makes a sound] a little something like that. That dog sucked that thing up. I thought, “Well, that’s some kind of trick.” I laid a piece of meat down there. The dog wouldn’t touch it. So I said [makes a sound]. Still wouldn’t touch it. I wasn’t his daddy. He wouldn’t follow me. He wouldn’t obey me. He knew his daddy’s voice and his daddy’s voice he followed.

[Makes a sound] Wouldn’t do anything. I said, “Eat it! Eat that meat!” He wouldn’t do it. I was going to kick that dog.


Michael:  Stupid dog, wouldn’t do anything I’d tell him to do. The man said [makes a sound], and the dog ate the meat. I said to him, “How did you train that dog to do that?” He said, “You just got to be smarter than the dog.” [laughter] Okay. So I shut up.

But when it came time to raise kids a little later on, I began to reflect back on that. He didn’t spank on that dog or beat on that dog or wait until the dog jumped up onto the kitchen table and starts eating everything up and then knock him off the table against the wall and say, “You don’t do that in my house, dog! Let me tell you something, one more time like that and you’re going to get it!” Next day, dog [gulps]. “Didn’t I tell you one more time? Now, I’m not going to tell you again!” Next day, come in, the dog’s in the middle of the table . . . knock him off in the other direction. “This is the last time I’m going to tell you. See this stick, I’m going to take this to you. One more time and you’re going to get this stick.”

Comes in next day, dog’s up on the table. He whacks it right across the back. Dog falls off in the floor, begins to kick around like this about half-paralyzed. Mother comes in and says, “What are you doing to my dog?!” He said, “Well, he’s up in the middle of my table. Don’t you teach this dog anything while I’m at work?”


She says, “Well, he’s your dog too.” He says, “Yeah, well . . . I’m going fishing!”

Now, what’s wrong? He said, “Why? I trained my dog right. I don’t know what’s wrong with him. I whipped him just like your book said.”

I had a lady write me the other day, the most pitiful thing in the world. They had a kid that was three or four months old. It was a man writing me, is what it was. The man was beating on his kid because the kid was crying and waking up . . . crazy, man. You don’t train up a kid by waiting for them to do something wrong, then tying into them and spanking them so that it hurts so much they won’t do it again. You got to train them. Before I had any children—I didn’t get married until I was 25. I couldn’t find anybody that wanted to live my lifestyle. I started preaching when I was young and I traveled a lot and did a lot of different things.

But, anyway, I found my wife here and she found me. She proposed to me and we got married when I was about 25 or 26, I believe. It was about three years before we could have any kids. Finally, read a book and learned how. Anyway. That’s another subject. I’ll write on that someday. I’ve learned a lot.

I decided real early in life that the most important thing in the world to me was going to be my family. I decided that before I got married. Deb and I had about three years to talk about it. Look it over and talk about what we were going to do and how we were going to raise our kids.

We came up with an idea. I said, “I’m not going to send my kids to school.” She said, “Not going to send them to school?! They’ll be idiots.” I said, “No. We’re going to teach them at home.” “I don’t know anything about teaching.” “I don’t either, but that’s what we’re going to do.”

This was way back before there was such a thing as homeschooling. The word wasn’t created, they didn’t make literature for it. There were no homeschool support programs. There was nothing going on at all. It was unheard of. It was like saying I’m going to not shave anymore.

We decided we were going to homeschool. I said, “From what I read, I don’t believe we’re going to have our kids in a hospital. Let’s just have them at home.” “Have them at home?!” You see why I couldn’t get anybody to marry me? We decided on certain things that we were going to do in life that were going to be different.

I said, “We’re not going to eat any white bread anymore.” We’re going to quit eating that Colonial Bread that builds the body in eight ways, and seven of them are constipation. I said, “We’re not going to have any of that in our house” and we had certain things we decided we were going to do. So when we had our first kid, I said “Look,” I said, “She’s yours until she can follow me around outside, and then she’s mine. Alright?” She said, “Alright.”

We were really excited about our first kid. By the way, we didn’t have those books that told us about how to nurse in certain proportions and order and how to have babies and all of that. So our baby slept with us and nursed whenever she wanted to. Deb toted her around just fine, didn’t need anybody to help us out on that.

I didn’t wait till she got big enough to walk. I remember one time I got ready to go rabbit hunting. I had this double sawed-off Ithaca, a 12-gauge I rabbit hunted with. I tell you I’m bad on those cottontails and swamp rabbits too. I had that double-barrel shotgun I’d go hunting with. I’d shoot with from the hip. Boom! Boom! Two of them right there!

So I said, “I’m gonna take Rebekah. She wants to go rabbit hunting with me.” She said, “How do you know?” I said, “Well she told me she did.” “What did she say?” “She said [gibberish] and I said alright.” I got a backpack and I stuck her in this little frame backpack like this. I don’t know how old she was, but she wasn’t talking yet.

I took her rabbit hunting, and I explained to her what we were going to do, and I could see she was excited about it. And so I went out, and I was stomping through the honeysuckle like this and sure enough, after about a half hour, jumped up a rabbit and I missed him and that’s unusual, very unusual. So I reloaded and went back and I got him.

He was limping a little bit and then about that time another one jumped up and I got him also. Two of them and I ran over and I had to go over this barbed wire fence and I climbed over it and stomped through the honeysuckle and picked up the one rabbit and then picked up the other rabbit. I said, “Look, Rebekah! We got two rabbits!”

Nothing. Absolutely silent.

I said, “Two rabbits!”

Silence. So I grabbed the frame, pulled her around, and there she was, sound asleep!

She slept through three shots and jumping over all those fences. That’s the way you teach it. We never had any trouble with her sleeping after that. Just take them out and rabbit hunt with them when they’re real sleepy. They’ll go to sleep under any circumstances after that. My playmates were my kids. They were my friends. I didn’t have other close friends. My kids were my close friends, and my wife. I didn’t have other hobbies and pastimes.

I used to like to go fishing by myself in this swamp. It was the Mississippi River run where the water would rise up in the spring and fill up, and when it would go down, it would leave a lake. It was trapped back there, and it has a bunch of cypress trees. Some of you are close to that. You know what I’m talking about.

I would go in there and have to wade in water about waist-deep. It’s just full of snakes and all kinds of good fish—a bass every other cast. It’s a fantastic place. It’s a fisherman’s paradise. I’d go down there and fish. Well, my boys came along and they were about two and three, and I started taking them fishing with me.

We were down there one day, and I had left them on one side of the lake and I was on the other side. I had to swim across to fish on the other side. I was over there fishing and I heard them hollering, “Whew, look. Get him.” I looked up and one of them had a cotton mouth about eight feet long like this, holding that thing up.

They said, “Look what we got, Daddy! A cotton mouth.” I said, “Boys, make sure it’s dead.” So they said, “Well, we beat his head plumb off. It’s plumb beat off.” I said, “All right, what do you want to do?” They said, “We want the skin.” I said, “Okay, skin it out boys.”

I was on the other side, about 200 feet away fishing. I saw them over there on the bank, and they laid that old skin out like that. Now, you have to understand to fish where we were, there were lots of mosquitoes. So you had to wear camouflage mosquito nets we’d put on us like this.

To keep the mosquitoes from stinging through them—my wife made these for us—you create these ripples on them, kind of like pleated material that lets it stand out and then put some threads or strings of cloth hanging down. It kind of brushes the mosquitoes off. It looked like a big rag pile. You know what I’m talking about? And the boys, they all had them too.

Then the mosquitoes would bite you on the face, and we didn’t believe in that poison stuff that you spray on you to get rid of mosquitoes. So we would take mud and smear it on us like this, that old swamp mud, and put it on the back of your hands and that would keep—and put it in your ears, too, like this. That would keep mosquitoes out of your ears.

Here’s these two little guys . . . I don’t remember how old they were, maybe four and six, or something. They were bent over skinning that snake out. They looked bad. They’re skinning that snake out. You know what happens when you cut into a snake’s nerves, don’t you? It just starts cutting all up and acting up. Well, they didn’t know that yet.

I waited, and sure enough they hit the nerve. When they did I saw both of them running backwards through a briar patch screaming, “Aaah!” Just digging back like that and getting out of the way.

We were coming out of there that day. We had to walk about a mile and a half across this swamp, then come up this steep bank. When you walked up, you’re in a state park right on this blacktop road. There was lots of city folks, they’d come out there and have little picnics and experience some of nature right there where they’d mowed the lawn, and had a little lake, and a little picnic table, and a little place like that to put your charcoal on.

We’d been down in the bottom here. You have to carry your fish out in a sack. We got canteens on us, we got machetes, we got knives and tomahawks and what all. We got this mud all over us to keep the mosquitoes out. Here, the three of us come and I looked out and I saw about 8 or 10 of them standing in the road in a big circle, about a twenty foot circle, and one of them was holding this stick like he was pronouncing a spell on the snake right there in the middle.

It was just one of these big ole black water snakes. The boys had already picked up 50 a piece. They knew they weren’t poisonous, and I taught them how to catch them without them biting them. If they bit you, it’d just make a sore, but it wasn’t poisonous.

I looked at that snake and I saw him and I said, “Gabe, when we get out on the road there, pick that snake up.” “Okay, Daddy.” So, we come climbing out of the brush, part the brush like that, step out on the road. “Whew” one of them says. I walk right through the middle of them like I didn’t even know they were there and walk right over the snake like I didn’t know it was there. Two or three of them were screaming. “It’s a snake! Look out! It’ll bite you! Be careful! It’s a snake!”

I just walk right past it like I didn’t even see the snake. Gabriel comes right along behind me. “Two of them—little ones, just like the big one!” Gabriel reached down, grabbed that snake by the tail, picks it up and he couldn’t even get the head off the ground, it was so tall. He says, “Oh, Daddy! That’s a big one!”

They were just [gasp] . . . I said, “Oh, leave that snake alone, boy, and come on,” and just kept on walking like that, like I was totally indifferent. He drops the snake. Nathan is walking along behind, kind of dragging the fish like this. We get down the road and it’s totally silent behind me. It’s like they all just dropped dead. I couldn’t hear a thing.

We get down the road about as far as from here to the back of the building and I am dying to see what they’re doing, but I don’t act like I care. It’s all part of the fun. I pretend I’m slapping a mosquito on my shoulder. I go [slaps] like that and look around and they’re all standing in the middle of the road going [makes face with big eyes and open mouth].

We get around the corner and we just die laughing. We’re slapping each other and we’re laughing. The mud’s falling off of us. We left a little pile of mud there. We’re laughing and we get in the pickup truck and we’re driving home laughing about it.

Of course, the other kids were in school in kindergarten while this is going on, you understand? Other kids were at daycare, my boys were out there with me fishing. We get down to the country store and we stop there and buy us an RC and a moon-pie. We sit down out frony and everybody that comes in there, we stop them and tell them the story about those funny city slickers. Of course, they all get a laugh. We go home and tell everybody about it.

Now, when I get home with my boys, they’re four and six years old, and we’ve had a good time like that, and I say to the boys, “Boys, carry the garbage out.” Do you think they say, “Oh, Daddy, I don’t want to”? They love to please me; we’re buddies. We’re friends.

When I say, “Boys, it’s time to do a little schooling. Sit down here and let’s discuss this thing, let’s talk about this. Sit down here and let’s figure this out.” “Okay.” They don’t want to, but they will. They’ll sit down and do it. Why? Because they’re buddies. My boys never threw fits—never, ever, not one—and told me they’re not going to do something. They never sat down and squalled or begged and had little spells. They were always obedient. Why?

Because I developed a relationship with those boys in moments like that and other things that we did.

For instance, my boys,—well, girls, too—but they were my playthings. I enjoyed making them men. It was just fun to make them men and show them off too. And so, when they were out there riding their wagon down the hill, I’d say, “Boys, you know what you need to do now? When I was your age, or maybe a couple years younger, I’d have me a little ramp to jump off where I’d make that thing go up in the air.” “How do you do that?”

I’d say, “Well, you can take a couple concrete blocks here. And then, you take a piece of plywood and you lay it on there like that and pack a little dirt around there so it won’t skip on you. You just come down here and you hit that thing real square and you get airborne. You go over the top of it.”

I said, “Now, it’s liable to wreck so you need to be careful.” Of course, you know they’re going to wreck the first two or three times. They’re going to get some knots on the head but they’re going to love it. I’d die laughing, just stand there and laugh every time they’d have a wreck. When they’d make a good jump, I’d brag them. I’d go say, “Momma, come out here. I want you to see what these boys are doing.”

She’d come out and watch what they’re doing. When Grandma would come over, I’d say, “Grandma, the boys are doing school. They’re having a good time. Don’t ride the wagon, kids.”


Michael:  We had this little pond, about half the size of this room, real close to the house. Every one of my kids were swimming by the time they were three and a half or four years old. I’d take them down there when they were just little bitty tots. I’d put them in the water. I’d play with them and they’d learn to swim and kick and paddle. We’d have what we’d call gook fights. You’ve got to have an old Tennessee or Alabama pond that’s got brown water in it to have a gook fight because the gook grows in the shallow water and it gets thick and stringy like that, and it grows on top. As the summer goes on, it get thicker and thicker until you can pick up a big handful of it like this, and it’s like spinach sort of, and about the same taste.

You get it together and you get a big handful of it. You wait until your opponent comes up out of the water, washing like this and can’t see good, and you haul off and hit him right square between the eyes with it like that. That goop just wraps around him and goes over his ears like this. It’s a horrible feeling and experience if you’re hit, but it’s great if you’re doing the hitting.

We’d go out—and the girls, too. The girls had these gook fights—Of course, it’d end up they’d all gang up on me. I was one side, they were the other side. They would jump out of the water, and they’d run around the bank and grab a handful gook, and they’d get a bunch of gook balls like this. They’d come running up and they’d just laugh.

Then, I’d go under the water. I’d come up, and there would be one of them behind me and they’d hit me like that. I’d hit them, and they’d go swimming off real fast. Then they’d get on the diving board, and they’d run, and they’d throw one at me this way. We’d have these gook fights.

Several times after that, I’d be preaching, feel something stiff on the back of my neck or my ear and peel off a long string of that stuff. It wouldn’t hardly come off in the shower. It’d just stick with you. It’d get around your ear and you’d peel it off like that. My wife, “Hey, hold up a minute,” and go inside my ear and get some of that green gook.

When you’re having a good time with your kids like that, listen, when it comes time to tell them what to do you can tell them in a plain voice without anger and they do it. But if you ignore them like you do your dog, just wait until they get on the table and then kick them off, you’re going to have problems. And you won’t be able to beat them enough to keep them from doing that.

Because once you train that dog to get on that table and eat that food, and then you start beating on him, he’s going to snap at you for beating on him. But he’s still going to get on the table and eat that food. You can beat on him again, and he’ll still eat that food. Why? Because you trained him to.

Now, you could break the dog from that habit, but what you’d have to do is spend some time with him. Get him to where he wasn’t shy of you when you lifted your hand. Get him where he didn’t do like that, and think he’s fixing to get hit every time, and get him to where you spoke positive words to him. Then take him to a table that has food on it, and say to the dog, “No.”

Then he jumps up in the chair, because he’s used to eating this food. As he starts to get on the table, you pull him back down, you put him down, and say no. The dog jumps up in the chair again, you pull him down and say no. Then you sit down and you eat. Take yourself a little switch of some sort, and when the dog starts to jump up, reach out and hit him on the end of the nose with it.

Hit him right between the eyes with, just enough…or a piece of newspaper. Not creating great pain, but the shock of it is getting his attention and reinforcing your word, no. When he starts to get on the table again, whack him right between the eyes with that thing, say no, in a normal voice.

Bring him in every day for a week while you eat, and when he starts to get on the table say no. I got a cat that comes in the house and will not get on the table. That cat will be starving, but it will not get on the kitchen table to eat. You can still see the imprint on the wall, shaped just like a cat.


No, all I did, the first few times he tried . . . [laughter] don’t believe everything I say, alright? [laughter]

Sometimes my mouth just runs away with me, just like a woman or something. [laughter]

That’s a joke, don’t believe that either. First few times he tries to get on the table, I just push him off, like that, push him off. If he never gets started, then you don’t have the habit to break, but once they get started you can still break the habit but it takes repeated experiences of turning them away, and saying no, and gaining their confidence and their respect that you’re consistent.

Now, if you go consistent for two weeks keeping that cat off the table, and then one day, you let him up there and you let him eat, then it’s going to take four weeks to break him the next time. Then if you let him up after four weeks, you’ve convinced that cat to just keep trying. Eventually, you can find a loophole. Consistency is absolutely important.

Announcer:  As always, we hope you are blessed by what you’ve heard today. And again, remember to check out our great weekly online specials.


FREE Magazine - Subscribe Now!