If you look up the word obedience in the dictionary, it means “too listen”.
We all want our dogs and kids to listen- the key is to stay out of trouble in the first place!
Starting off with a consistent routine is essential when raising puppiesAND kids! Set sleep times, meal times, study and practice times, exercise and play time must be a part of each day. Have family meetings and discuss the importance of prevention and having better self-control, the kids not the puppy! Kids must learn to have some self discipline…not to grab, tease or otherwise abuse the puppy. Discuss time-outs and discipline as it applies to the puppy as well as to the kids.
Time management is a challenge for all families. It helps to make a list, and work on a schedule. Work on it as an entire family. Make an Activity and Chore Board, purchase a few big Poster boards and lay out the schedule and discuss how it will be implemented. Structure out what is expected and how and when to get it done. Kids gain confidence thru doing chores and learning how to follow through and finish what they start. Parents must make extra effort to recognize and reward kids for their efforts.
Work with the kids and puppies on obedience-oriented games they can play like “Go To” or “Fetch” …where the puppy goes and grabs the object, not the kid! Have the pup on a tie-out station while the kids do their homework, chewing away on its bone. After homework it’s time to all go outside for a walk and some play time! Point out to the kids if we always say “COME” and grab for the puppy the puppy will eventually not “COME”. We can’t say “COME” all the time, the wrong way, and expect the pup to learn. We need to start with place training. Teach the pup to move from us and to a specific place. “Crate, Outside”…use words that send the pup away and use treats to show the pup the place. “COME” always has to have a positive association. Using your kids’ names, send the pup… “Puppy, go to Jake”. Have Jake call “Puppy, Come”, he makes the pup SIT and gives a treat. “Good Pup”! Have Jake say “Puppy, Go to Mom”… You call puppy, make it SIT and give the treat! Your pup is not only finding that “COME” is fun, the pup is engaging in a brain stimulating exercise while learning your names!
To help get the point of prevention across, let’s get creative. Get more poster board and have the kids create reminder signs…Post on the front door “WAIT, WHERE’S THE DOG”? “KEEPGATECLOSED” at the yard gate to prevent rushing out doors. Post “DON’T FEED THE ANIMALS” in the kitchen. To remind no one should feed scraps or give freebies or encourage begging. We may have to have a rule for a short while…all food in the kitchen! Don’t give a puppy a chance to learn to food steal! Put a few “PICK UP AFTER YOURSELVES” signs around the house. This reminds everyone to pick up shoes and socks, gloves, paper…well pretty much everything has to be up! Teach kids to put their stuff away!
Having a good management plan prevents problems. Don’t allow the puppy to practice mistakes. Puppies need a safe haven from a bustling house. Kids and puppies should never be left unsupervised. Give yourself and the pup a few options for confinement, pens, corrals, crates are a must, as well as tie-out stations. On tie-outs, the pup has to practice settling down –during quiet time, especially in the evenings, and learn it is not play time twenty-four seven. A dog run is a must in the back yard, especially for large breeds. With young kids and puppies, it helps to keep a trailing leash on the pup in the house. The pup can’t learn “keep away games”, to run from us or out a door. Having a trailing leash on gives us a chance to control movement through the house. You can’t allow a pup to run wild, peeing anywhere, grabbing kids’ clothes and generally making mayhem. Confinements through crate, tie-outs and leashes will produce a pup that will eventually “Go outside” and has not been allowed to practice running away, begging and jumping up on people.
Get into the habit of pointing out what is right! Praise your child for putting his sisters flip flops in the closet. Praise the pup for chewing on her bone! The new puppy gives the house opportunity to teach everyone to habitually use positive reinforcement as opposed to always being negative- and how that can be applied to the family dynamic. As we all practice these principles in our daily lives, the pup actually teaches us to be patient, firm, consistent and diligent…in all areas of our family life.
Laura Enos- A pioneer in the puppy training industry, Laura has long been regarded as one of the top Pet Dog Trainers in the Bay Area. She has been helping people with there pets since 1982. In that time she has trained approximately 37,000 dogs. Her expertise comes from training horses since childhood to her early work with German Shepherd Service Dogs, all experiences which taught her the importance of having structure and leadership when raising an animal. That is what sets LAURA FOR DOGS apart- the entire family is welcome to come to class and learn together. The class curriculum is fun, effective and relevant. For more information and local classes, go to www.laurafordogs.com.