Bringing a dog into your family is joyous and your kids will certainly be excited. However, this situation can be tricky. It may take some time for your dog to get acquainted with her new environment – learning the rules and a new routine. This is also the perfect opportunity to teach your kids how to interact with and respect animals. That is why it is of the utmost importance for you and your children to participate together in dog training and to find ways to make it fun.
Learning the Basics
Even though dog training is ultimately the responsibility of adults, there is no reason to exclude children from the process. Start with the basics and first teach your child how to manage the dog with queues to sit or lie down. One of the best strategies is to “lure” the dog with a treat. To lure your dog to sit, first have your child stand in front of the dog and hold a treat in her hand, palm up, and extend the hand to the dog’s nose. Then move the hand with the treat over the puppy’s head. As he follows the food he will sit. Once he does so, give the reward with a “Good Boy” and let the child give the treat to the dog. Giving the treat from the palm of their hand will help prevent fingers from being accidently nipped. Practice daily but keep the sessions short and fun.
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Go for walks together
Walks are another perfect opportunity to teach your child how to work with your dog. There are however a few considerations before turning the leash over to your child. For example, what is the size and strength of the dog in relation to your child? If the dog pulls hard, will the child be able to hold the leash? One helpful tip is to bring along one of your dog’s favorite toys to be used to get his attention if needed. As you move down the street always be on alert and watch how your dog responds to neighbors, joggers, and other animals.
The Daily Routine
If your dog misbehaves, teach your kids how to redirect – children should never punish a dog by hitting or otherwise hurting the dog. Engage them with the feeding routines and let the child give sit-stay commands before they lower the bowl in front of the dog. Also, include children in other routines, like bathing and clothing the dog. First, you have to train your dog to be calm, so reinforce the children to talk and manage the pet gently. After they have established a strong relationship, it will be easier for them to bath or even dress them in in stylish dog accessories before the walk.
Teach kids some warning signs
Talk with your kids about the warning signs so no one gets hurt. Children should be monitored at all times around the dog and rough play should not be allowed. One way a dog communicates with us is by growling. Never punish a dog for growling – that is his way of saying that he is not comfortable with the situation or is unhappy about something. Consider a growl as a warning. If you punish the dog for growling you may increase the risk that next time the dog will bite without giving the warning sign.
Your dog may also enjoy some time away from your children. Consider creating a safe, quiet place in your home just so your dog can relax and not be bothered.
Training through play
You can teach the dog plenty of things by playing with him as well. Playing fetch is perfect for learning the basic commands of “sit”, “retrieve” and “drop it”. You can even play with several balls and make the game more energetic and fun. Another great game is the dog version of “Red Light, Green Light” where you can use commands “come”, “stop” and “stay”. Possibilities are endless, and the outcome is mutual love and respect and plenty of merry time spent together.
Dog training isn’t easy but try to come up with creative ways to keep it fun. Start your dog’s training early and involve the children as much as you can. That way, the dog will learn to respect all of you, and your children will learn that a dog isn’t just a toy, but a big part of your family.