For me, this is an easy question. Whenever a family asks: “should my kids be involved in dog training”, my immediate answer is yes! The whole family should be involved.
Many kids plead with Mom and Dad for a new puppy or dog and once the newness wears off, kids quickly lose interest in caring for or training the dog. For the kids, it becomes a convenience thing. They will give the puppy or dog attention only when they want.
While too many “dog trainers in the family” can confuse your dog if you’re not careful (everyone has different voice tones and timing – especially kids), I believe it is important for age appropriate children to be involved in the training of their family dog if they want to and if they are supervised. If done properly, it teaches good pet responsibility. Remember to assist your kids with proper tone of voice for commands as well as praise.
I also think that in addition to obedience training, other dog-related duties should also be taught to children in homes with puppies and dogs. For example, having them get the puppy or dog to do sits and downs with feeding or giving them a good sit for a toy or game of fetch. If responsible pet ownership is taught early on in life, every day, the child will one day grow up to be a responsible pet owner.
If training kids and dogs is not taken seriously by the parents in the family, it’s a recipe for disaster.
It could be a bite waiting to happen.
Many kids behave unpredictably around dogs. From our human point of view, it may look innocent, but from the dog’s point of view, it can be nerve racking and stressful.
For example, a child picks up a puppy or spontaneously hugs a dog’s neck. If a dog is not used to that kind of activity around kids, he could react defensively and bite.
The child just wanted to hug the dog – innocent? Yes but it still puts the dog in conflict and often with no time to react with a warning growl.
I think kids almost love puppies and dogs to a fault. For that matter many adult dog owners do as well. From the dog’s point of view, there is a distinct difference in kids and adults.
I want to discuss a few problems kids can cause dogs. I use the word “can” because I do recognize that there are many kids out there to which the following problems do not apply.
So let’s take a look
• A child does this: Pulling ears, tail hair, sticking fingers in ears, eyes or hitting with hands or objects and scolding, punishing
• A dog may do this: Growl, snap, bite and pups may submissively wet
• A child does this: Scream and/or run
• A dog may do this: Chase jump and/or bite
Another inconsistency is that dogs do the best in a calm environment, while most kids on the other hand, tend to get very excited in play with friends as they scream and make jerky movements. This often times puts the dog on the defensive.
Sometimes it’s just better to crate your pup or keep your dog inside if the kids are playing outdoors.
Dogs need a break from kids occasionally. Be proactive and give your dog a break the next time your kids have a pool party or group kid play in the back yard.
In general, kids do get along great with dogs with proper supervision and structure. However, if parents consistently scold their children often, the dog may get nervous or anxious with the child comes around.
On the other hand, if the child sees the parent frequently correct the dog, the child often times mimics the parent and corrects the dog. Then the dog defends itself. The outcome here may not be good.
So as you can see both kids and dogs can be heavily influenced by how a parent reacts to each.
If every dog owner followed these tips, our dogs would be better socialized and well-mannered and we’d have fewer dog behavior problems. We would also have fewer dogs put in shelters because their owners “just didn’t trust” them with their kids.
If you will serve as a strong role model for both your kids and your dog by setting rules, boundaries and expectations for both, life will be good.
I’m really interested in your thoughts and opinions on this. Did you or do you involved your kids in your dog training? – I’m here to help.
“Together, We Can Raise a Happy and Obedient Dog”
Jim Burwell, professional dog trainer for 25+ years, serving 8700+ clients, has a profound understanding of dog behavior and the many things, we as humans, do that influence that behavior – good or bad. Jim has the ability to not only steer dogs and puppies down the right path but to also train the owners to understand their part in having a great dog.
His Ground Rules for Great Dogs is the culmination of these years of training into an easy, step-by-step process so that your dog understands what you expect of him, you empower him to be able to give you the behavior you want and you empower him to be successful at living in a human home.