It's no secret that successfully getting kids involved with dog training can be difficult. Appropriate ages to get involved, specific things for your kids to teach, and getting them to be consistent are just a few of the challenges. It's my hope that I can shed some light on these issues and help you get your kids involved.
Getting your kids to help with training is very important. It helps build better relationships between them. And it can go a long way in breaking bad habits your dog may have with your kids. You can do all the training you want, but if your whole family doesn't do the same thing, there won't be many changes. More importantly, kids training pets can be a very fun and rewarding experience.
Beginner Training for Kids
Training with your child can begin very young. In fact, if they can walk and talk, you can begin with simple things. It's very important to be consistent with your child and your dog.
The easiest way to decide if the behavior is age appropriate is if your child is physically capable of repeating the steps you used to teach your dog. This means if they are not strong enough to hold your dog back, leash walking should wait. If they can hold a treat over the dog's head for Sit, you should start there.
Basic Training Checklist
First things first. Set both your kids and your dog up for success. The training environment you set up can go a long way to help.
- Select a place with as little distraction as possible.
- Have small, soft treats available.
- Have your dog on a leash to allow you to take control if needed.
- Have a reward for your child for encouragement.
Simple Obedience Commads: Sit or Come
Now it's time to get started. Start with an easy behavior your dog already knows. Sit and Come should do the trick.
Have your child simply call your dog and have the reward ready when he comes to them. The same thing can be done with Sit. Because you will have already practiced this with your dog, he should respond to your child easily.
This may seem a little useless because your dog already knows the trick, but the goal is just to get your kids and dogs working with each other in a productive way. Teaching your dog that your kid has tasy treats trains your dog to listen to your kid's commands. Your child can help with behavior training or daily chores like walking or mealtime. The goal here is not to actually have your child teach the dog. It is to get them training together. So keep this training time fun for both and always offer a lot of encouragement and praise.
Stop Your Dog from Jumping on Your Kid
A very common behavior problem kids deal with is jumping. This is because kids are fun, loud, and fast. This makes them prime playmates for the dogs, but also creates a cycle of inappropriate play and accidental reinforcement. Follow these steps to keep your dog from jumping up on your child.
- Have you dog on a leash to help control him but allow them to interact.
- As soon as your dog starts jumping, have your child cross his arms and turn around.
- At the same time, slightly pull the dog away from your kid.
- Once all 4 paws are back on the ground, have your child come back and interact with your dog.
- If your dog continues jumping, have your child use a treat and get him to sit instead of jump.
Keep Puppies from Being Too Mouthy
This process can also be used to help with puppy mouthing. Puppies mouth kids for the same reason they jump, and you can follow the same process to teach them to stop mouthing. The only difference is that you will want your child to cross their arms and turn around anytime they feel a tooth on them. If the jumping or mouthing continues when the kids are turned around, go ahead and walk out of the room. Remember, you will be holding the leash so your pup cannot follow freely. This will give you much more control and set everyone up for success.
Because consistency is so important with training, it will be up to you to ensure your child is consistent. The easiest way to do this is to set up a fun training scenario and use lots of rewards and praise for both of them. You can make it a game or set reward milestones for time spent training. Also, you will want to demonstrate for them the first couple of times so they can just copy what you are doing.
If you haven't had your child do training with Fido, now's the time to start. Keep it fun, keep it positive, and keep it consistent. After just a few training days you will begin to notice a shift in relationship between your dogs and kids. And that's the best payoff you can ask for. Stay motivated, and if you need more help, find a local trainer.