Monday, August 15, 2011
Whether you have a puppy or an older dog, involving the entire family in the dog's training is an important part in the dog's education as well as the child's. Kids like to be included in family things, and training a dog should be a family affair. Having a role in a dog's care and training also helps children learn about being compassionate and how to act around a dog.
Socializing a dog or puppy isn't difficult to do. What's hard is teaching children not to roughhouse with a dog to the point where the dog or puppy becomes agitated or overly excited. That's why kids and adults need to understand a dog's body language to know when the dog has had enough fun for the time being. Involving children in a dog's training helps them learn how to watch what a dog is saying. It helps them become more aware of the dog's movements, and it's one of the best ways to bond and learn who their dog is as an individual.
Understanding breeds compassion, and when children train a dog using positive reinforcement, they are learning a life lesson that teaches them positive techniques which help with their human relationships. They learn they don't have to intimidate or use fear or bullying to get things they want, and they learn that giving respect to a dog returns trust to them.
Growing up, we had a Manchester Terrier named Suzie. She was the first dog I remember and she'll always have a special place because of that. My mom was the one who taught me how to interact with dogs. She made it clear to my siblings and me that if we did something to Suzie that caused her to bite us, it was our fault – not Suzie’s. Mom did involve us in Suzie's training, and it helped us learn how to treat a dog with respect and that we did have control over her actions towards us. I also learned that training her was fun.
I talk about a dog's body language a lot because it's how dogs communicate with us. I'm a firm believer in teaching children to watch how a dog moves their body, eyes, if their tail is held high or tucked between their legs. A dog will convey what their intentions are and everyone – young and old alike – who is around a dog should understand their body language. When kids train a dog, they see for themselves what a calm and stable dog looks like, and what positive body language says. The more children learn about how a dog acts and learn that they can control the dog's actions, the safer they are around any dog. Every child and adult should know how to recognize an aggressive dog or one that's scared to avoid unnecessary confrontations.
Understanding how a dog views his world is important. Like children, dogs need educating to know how we expect them to act. Dog bites happen because the dog's signals were ignored or misread, and a dog will tell you his intentions before he bites. His body language can be subtle and learning how to read a dog is a process that takes time to master. Small children should never be left alone with a dog no matter how well trained the dog is or how good the relationship is between them.
A dog's hierarchy isn't the same as wolves, but dogs do have their own rank and file. Small children fall into the dog's hierarchy as subordinate to them because of the child's size. By involving kids in the training process, the dog learns to pay attention to every human in his family no matter how big or small they are and he understands the child is on a higher level in the family hierarchy than he is. A dog who knows basic commands like sit, stay, down and come is easier to manage and less likely to get into trouble when he responds to all members of his human family.
Because children and dogs love playing together, involving kids in dog training is something they can do while playing. Keep lots of CANIDAE TidNips™ treats on hand for training, and you might be surprised how good of a dog trainer your child becomes and how well mannered your dog is when everyone in the family is involved in his education.
Photo by docentjoyce
Read more articles by Linda Cole