Children are often eager to play with a new pet, even before the pet is properly trained. Whenever you bring a new dog home, you will notice that your kids, especially older kids want to help with some responsibilities. The kids will want to walk the dog all the time or play their favourite games as long as the dog understands simple commands. Unfortunately, playing with the new pet may interfere with your training sessions.
The key to training a dog properly is consistency, which is impossible to achieve with kids playing with the dog. However, you can use the tips outlined below to get your kids involved in the training sessions. The tips will make the training sessions interesting for the kids.
1. Teach the Kids the Basic Commands The first thing that you need to teach your kids is how to interact with the new pet. Small children may not learn complicated commands, but they can do simple things like making the dog sit or calm down. Teach them how to bond with the dog or control its movements with food. For instance, holding a treat or food in front of the dog’s nose and then bringing it down slowly will teach the dog to sit. Small children can learn such simple commands easily.
Kids can also learn to make the dog follow them by placing a treat or its favourite toy at the waist level. With a simple command, the dog will follow the treat or toy as the child begins to move. You must learn and practice these simple commands before involving the kids. Be sure that the dog has learned or is responding to the tricks first. Otherwise, the training process will take longer and the lessons will no longer be interesting to the kids.
Your focus when introducing the kids to the training sessions is to help them develop a relationship with the dog. It is easier to train a dog that has a relationship with all members of the family. The dog should learn to pick and respond to cues from everyone including the kids. Hence, you must teach the kids the same commands that adults use when training the dog.
2. Always Supervise and Control all Training Sessions
The level of involvement in training will depend on the age of the children. Older children who are in, or about to join, high school can participate in advanced dog training. Stick to basic commands for small children. However, you must remain in control of all the sessions, especially at the start. If you lose control over the lesson, the kids may derail the training sessions with their favourite games.
The pet may also get irritated and become aggressive towards the kids depending on their behaviour. Ensure that the kids follow the commands you taught them and know when to stop if the dog shows signs of aggression. Emphasize the need to involve you or any other adult at home when training the dog. If you do not set clear rules from the beginning, kids may be tempted to train the dog in your absence.
3. Involve Kids in Everyday Care and Exercises
Your kids should be involved in the daily care of the dog even before you can introduce them to dog training. Give them routine responsibilities like feeding and brushing the dog. Teach them the right diet and amount for the dog. Otherwise, they will always give treats or snacks instead of a balanced diet. You can give them routine duties and commend them whenever they do their tasks right. Positive feedback will make them love taking care of the dog and eventually training.
Involve your kids in simple exercises and games such as walking the dog around your neighbourhood. Never allow them to walk the dog on their own. Teach them simple games like playing fetch in the backyard. For older kids, you can teach them how to swim or play with the dog in the swimming pool. Remember that you must remain in control of all the activities whenever your kids are involved.
4. Vary the Activities
One of the reasons why your kids may not be involved as much in dog training is the repetition of the same activities. Repetition and consistency are important for the dog to learn new commands. However, the kids may find the training sessions boring. Alternate the activities whenever you want them to participate. For instance, you can involve them in the last training session just before feeding the dogs. Vary the daily exercises as well to include activities that children will enjoy.
You can use different routes when walking the dog or alternate running or jogging with a slow paced walk. Many kids enjoy playing hide and seek. You can include it when training the dog’s recall and have the kids hide in different stops. Kids do not have to play fetch the same way by throwing the ball. Teach them to drop the ball at times instead of throwing. Your dog can learn several commands at the same time. For instance, it can learn to fetch, bring, and sit in the same session.
5. Get Help from a Dog Trainer
One of the best ways to get your kids involved in training the dog is to seek help from a qualified dog trainer. You can hire a trainer from a service like Dog Harmony to help you with the training sessions. One advantage of involving a trainer such as the one mentioned above is that you learn the simplest ways to help your dog learn new commands. The trainer will also advise you on the type of the activities that are safe for the kids based on their age.
Another major reason why you should consider involving a trainer is dealing with a dog’s aggressive behaviour. Sometimes dogs are aggressive towards children, especially if they are coming from a home or environment with no children. You will struggle in helping the children form a relationship with an aggressive without professional help. Trainers will also help if you have limited time to teach your kids how to play or care for the dogs.
6. Allow the Children to Learn at Their Own Pace
Your children’s willingness to participate in the training sessions largely depends on the level of preparation. Do not wait until the dog is home to prepare them for the training sessions. Involve them in the process of acquiring a new dog and inform them of upcoming training sessions. Once you start the training sessions, allow the kids to learn to give commands at their pace without irritating the dog. For instance, you can teach them one command in a week until they master it. Give them alternative things to do while you train the dog on other commands.
Start with short training sessions before progressing to hourly lessons. You can start with walking the dog for short distances and advance to long distances or climbing over time. Prepare for the lesson as well. For instance, ensure that the dog has two leashes before inviting your kids for the daily walks. Talking to your kids about the importance of bonding and taking care of the dog is equally important. Prepare them for negative responses to their commands as well.
7. Be Patient and Persistent
Many parents give up after the first few training sessions when their kids show no interest in the sessions. The reality is that kids react differently to changes in the family, including the introduction of a new pet. Some may be quick to embrace the change and want to play with it all the time. Others want to continue taking care of the old pet or simply play with their toys. We have mentioned the importance of allowing them to learn at their pace and involving a trainer. You also need to be patient as the kids get used to the new routines.
The kids may forget to do their routine tasks at times or drag their feet to the training sessions. Be persistent in inviting them to participate in the routine tasks and play sessions. It may take several weeks before they can embrace their responsibilities in taking care of the dog. Patience is important, even when working with a trainer. You need to be patient enough to repeat the commands until they understand each command, especially for small children. Older kids will learn the commands faster, but they may be distracted by play.
Training a dog is a hard task for dog owners. Getting kids involved is even harder, especially small children. It is important for a new dog to learn to respond to commands from all family members including children. Kids require supervision, patience, persistence, and a variation of activities to participate in dog training effectively. Prepare the kids for the training sessions adequately and be consistent with the commands. Repetition is important for the kids to learn the commands. Prepare them for all types of responses from the dog as well. A qualified dog trainer will help with more strategies to get your kids involved and actually enjoy dog training.