When it comes time for puppy training, it’s really important that everyone in the family is all on the same page, so that no-one accidentally sabotages the process. Here are 7 expert tips for puppy training with children that will make the whole process a lot easier.
Consistency is the key if you want a well-behaved dog that can be trusted to behave around your children. If trained correctly, the bond between your dog and children can develop into a very special friendship.
However, it is pointless spending weeks working on puppy training for young children to work against you. Teaching your dog to sit beside the dinner table without begging for food is one thing, but it’s a whole lot harder to do while your kids are slipping him treats under the table!
Puppy Training As a Family
#1. Teach Your Dog How to Behave Correctly Around Children
Before your children start helping with puppy training, you need to make sure that Fido knows how to behave appropriately around them.
You can do this by ensuring they have plenty of exposure and positive socialisation with kids, as well as people and animals of all ages and types.
Many puppies can get over-excited when they see new people, and end up jumping and even nipping noses. To avoid this, you need to train your puppy to sit before anyone greets him. This is a really easy command to teach and it will reduce any chance that he’ll jump and hurt or scare your children.
Tip #2: Teach Your Children How to Behave Around Dogs
Equally as important as your dog not getting too excitable around the kids, is your child not becoming too excitable around the dog!
Teach your children to be respectful of your new puppy, how to interact with him calmly and signs to watch out for.
Here are a few things you can teach your children:
- If a dog jumps up at them, turn around. Help them to understand why we do this – if they run away, screaming and shouting, the dog will only get more excitable and jump even more.
- If a dog bares their teeth or growls at the child, walk away immediately and stop interacting with them.
Tip #3: Make Sure Your Kids Are Fully Involved
Getting the whole family involved with the puppy training, as long as everyone is doing it consistently, can be a really great bonding experience for everyone.
This doesn’t mean you can leave you children to do the training alone though; you should always be there to supervise, so you can help them to give instructions properly and make sure each command is fully followed through.
Children as young as three or four are capable of understanding how to give a simple command such as ‘sit’ – and it’s important that the dog respects and listens to the youngest member of your family, just as much as the oldest.
Tip #4: Let the Children Use Different Commands
The American Kennel Club recommends giving children different commands, to the ones you (the parent) use to train your dog. This is because kids can be inconsistent in their choice of words, which can confuse your dog. Once your dog has confused a command, it’s really difficult to re-teach him.
So, for example, your dog might respond to ‘wait’ and ‘here’ for you, but for your children, they might train him the same thing, but using different commands such as ‘stay’ and ‘come’.
Tip #5: Encourage Your Children to Ignore Unwanted Behaviour
The most effective training method is using positive reinforcement. This means rewarding the good, and ignoring the bad (as long as no-one is in harm or danger).
For example, if your dog starts chewing on a shoe, just remove the shoe from him and pass him one of his toys to play with.
Children tend to be very loud and can shout if Fido takes one of their special cuddly toys, however it’s important that they learn to either just tell you or, if they’re old enough, react calmly by removing the toy rather than shouting and chasing the dog.
Tip #6: Teach Your Kids How To Use Treats
Dogs are very intuitive and they know who is more likely to give them treats and who is not.
Children should understand that in order for the puppy to have a treat, he needs to follow through on whatever command has been given to him.
If your child gives him a treat before he has fully sat down, or just because they’ve got bored of the training process, the dog will be harder to train by the rest of the family.
Tip #7: Some Easy Tricks for Your Children to Teach Their Dog
You might find that your children tire easily of training the dog simple yet important commands, such as how to walk on leash, and how to stay or heel.
Kids tend to enjoy teaching them more fun tricks, so here is a list of fun things them can teach their furry friend:
- Sit – A really fun, yet easy and rewarding first command for your child to teach.
- Shake hands – Your child will enjoy shaking hands in exchange for a treat.
- Roll – A great trick to show other family members and friends.
- Get the ‘…’ – Watch your child have great fun as they teach the dog to get his leash, or a certain toy.