We always encourage our clients to involve the whole family in the training of the dog; This includes the kids. Whilst adults should be responsible for the training of the dog, involving children can be incredibly beneficial. Getting your children to be involved in the training of your family pet will not only allow them to bond but will help your children understand what behaviour you are wanting to promote. When children see what you are trying to achieve, they may be less likely to undo the hard work you have putting in (i.e. not encouraging your dog to jump up on people).
There are many ways you can include your children in your training. Here are our five top tips for introducing children to dog training.
1. Bring your children to Training
At Found by the Hound, we encourage families to bring their children (providing they understand that this is a time for learning and not play). During our various training programs, children will be learning the do’s and don’ts firsthand from our Trainers.
Often the kids do not understand that a lot of their actions can actually be stimulating the pup to mouth and/or bite, so by having them participate, everyone in the household is on the same page with what is expected when you continue your training at home.
2. Allow your child to give the commands
Once your dog understands a command, then teach your child how it should be delivered. Ensure your child knows to speak in a clear voice and if previously implemented, use the hand gesture to accompany the command.
It is important that if a command is given, the behaviour is followed through. We suggest standing behind or beside your child when they give a command so you can be there to support the follow through should your dog not comply.
3. Hide & Seek
Often children do not know good games to play with a dog and so the first one they often think of is “chasing”. Unfortunately, as a dog is a predator, this game can often stimulate the pup to chase and then start to mouth or bite at the child.
An alternative to chasing games can be a healthy game of Hide and Seek. The game is fun for children and will stimulate your dog’s mind and senses. Place the dog on a long lead. Get your child to show the dog a treat and then run off and hide out of sight.
To begin with, make it simple. E.g. run in a straight line and then hide around a corner. Your child will need to call the dog’s name. With a release command, allow your dog to put nose to ground and follow the scent until he finds your child. Your child can then reward your dog with the treat, and everyone has fun! Each time increase the distance or difficulty of the trail.
Note: This game is best played outside as inside the house, the child’s odour will be everywhere.
4. Involve your child in Retrieving games
Encourage your pup to bring an item to you, rather than to pick it up and run away with it! To start with, throw a ball for the pup. Encourage him to come back to you and whilst the ball is still in his mouth, offer a treat. As the ball is dropped to take the treat, give a command (e.g. “give”). Always resist the urge to pull anything out of the pup’s mouth, as this will only build possession. Discourage the children from chasing after the puppy if he has picked something up and encourage them to start getting the puppy to bring an item to them and to drop it for a treat.
5. Trick Training
Who doesn’t love a good trick!! Time spent teaching a trick to a puppy is a wonderful way for them to develop a bond. Start off with a simple one like “beg”. Have the pup in a sit position and get the child to hold a treat just slightly above the pup’s nose. As the pup’s front legs come off the ground, give the treat. As the pup’s core strength improves, he will be able to go higher with is front paws and balance for longer. Note: Don’t hold the treat too high as the pup will be jumping up on his hind legs!!
How you involve your children with training your dog will depend on their age and capabilities. Always ensure that you as the adult are supervising any interaction between young children and your dog.