Getting a new dog is exciting for everyone in the family (unless you have a cat), and your kids may be eager to help get your new pet acclimated to your home and family. Depending on the age of your children, it might be difficult for you to find a way to make them feel like a big a part of your new pup’s life.
Getting your dog properly trained is step number one for a new dog owner, and to kids, this prospect is very exciting. They want the dog to learn all sorts of crazy tricks with little to no knowledge as to how to properly train this behavior. While including the kids in the training process may be challenging, it is always a possibility. Here are a few ways your kids can help train your new pup.
1. Give Your Kids the Treat Bag
Your kids may not be able to get the new dog to obey them just yet, but your kids can be your helper during training sessions by doling out treats. Have your kids hold the treat bag and offer a treat each time the dog performs the correct action. If you have a new puppy, be sure your kids know to keep their fingers clear of those sharp milk teeth. It may be best to have them drop the treat in front of the pup.
2. Let Your Kids Pick the Parlor Tricks
Teaching your dog the basics is crucial. However, which silly tricks you teach him matter a little less. Since it doesn’t matter if your dog learns to shake or high five, let your kids decide which frivolous tricks your new furry friend will learn. If they are old enough, you may let each child take charge of one parlor trick and teach it to the dog themselves. However, if they are young, let them help out by offering treats while you focus on the commands.
3. Have Them Help with Dog-Proofing
Your kids want their new four-legged friend to be safe in your home. To include them in the preparations for a new dog, you might want to have them help you clean and dog-proof the home. Teach them to close the doors to their bedrooms so that their toys don’t become an unintended chew toy, and make sure they know where the pup is and is not allowed to go. This way they can help with minor disciplining and correction if the pup wanders off or is found chewing something he shouldn’t.
Regardless of how you decide to let your kids help with your new family dog, you should always first teach them how to interact with a dog. Never let your kids hit a dog or pull its ears and tail. They should know how to use positive reinforcement and avoid frightening the dog with excessively harsh discipline.
If your dog learns to either ignore or fear your kids, they may never have a successful relationship with him. Once they know the basics of canine interaction, you might find that your kids play an important role in socializing and training their new family member.
Paige Johnson is a self-described fitness “nerd.” She possesses a love for strength training. In addition to weight-lifting, she is a yoga enthusiast, avid cyclist, and loves exploring hiking trails with her dogs. She enjoys writing about health and fitness for LearnFit.org.