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Involving Your Children in Training Your New Dog







Photo via Pixabay by Ilipkind

A new dog is an exciting addition to any home (especially if you’ve taken precautions to puppy-proof said home).  Involving all family members in care and training for your new pet is important, especially for children. Kids of all ages can play an active role in training and it can help build consistency and trust in both the child and the dog.

With proper adult supervision, children can learn how to feed, groom, and exercise the family dog, and get him to obey basic commands. Remember to take into consideration your child’s size and your dog’s size and adjust training techniques accordingly.

Start with the Basics

Find a place with the least distractions and have your dog on a leash with plenty of soft treats ready.  You want tasty, but small treats since you’ll be working on repetition and need your dog to be eager for more.  Keeping the dog on a leash ensures that you can maintain control of the dog whenever necessary.

The beginning goal is to get your child and dog working nicely together, so start with a command that your dog already knows or can learn quickly like “sit” or “come”.  Have your child call the dog and when he comes, give him a treat immediately.  You can do the same with “sit”, then offer praise to the dog and to your child.

A common problem with new dogs is jumping and they tend to do it more with children due to their size and excited attitudes.  To quell this behavior, keep your dog on a leash to help control him, but allow him to interact with your child.  If the dog jumps up, tell your child to cross their arms and turn around right away.  When this happens, pull back gently on the leash to get your dog back down.  Once the dog is back down, bring your child back to the dog again.  If the dog continues to jump up, your child can use a treat to get him to sit instead of jump.

If you have more than one child, you can have them work as a team to accomplish the end goal.  Remember to be encouraging and make it fun for them.

Simple Commands

Most of the responsibility of dog training definitely lies with the adults, but with constant help and feedback children can master easy commands and gain your family dog’s respect in the process.

Teaching your dog to “sit” starts with following the treat.  Have your child stand in front of your dog with a treat  held just above the dog’s nose.  Tell them to move the treat back over the top of the dog’s head slowly, and your dog will sit to follow the food.  When the dog sits, praise him and your child.

You can teach your dog “down” in a similar manner by holding the treat in front of the dog’s nose, then dropping your hand to the ground so the dog follows the treat and drops into the down position.

You can teach a child to walk your dog on a leash depending on your dog’s size and the strength of your child. If you think your child is capable, tell your child to hold a treat or the dog’s favorite toy at waist level. Have them tell the dog, “Let’s go” and start walking.  Your dog will follow the treat or toy and begin walking.

Older children can have fun trying to extend the distance and times of basic commands after they have mastered them. “Sit” can turn into “stay” by having kids start taking steps away from the dog after telling him to “sit”.

Training Games

Training games are also excellent tools to use with children as they teach behavior cues between the dog and child or children.  Since adult supervision is essential and excitement can ramp up a dog’s behavior during play sessions, the adults should teach the games to the dog before getting the kids involved.

Hide-and-Seek, Fetch, and Stay Inside the Rope are all excellent games for dogs and children.  Clickers are cheap and can be utilized for these games and for learning commands.  Learn more here.

Being patient and helping your children take part in the training of your new dog will set your family up for a successful and safe relationship with its newest member.