Combination of puppy training and children: how hard can it be?
Starting puppy training and children being present can be a challenge. As a qualified dog trainer working in the Wimborne and Dorset area I am frequently asked to commence puppy training where there are young children involved. It could also be to start working with an older dog who has already learned bad habits when there is a child around.
As any client will know who has already been down the road of training it can be a challenging time that needs persistence and consistence to achieve the desired goals. However, add to this mix children and the job just got a lot harder.
Getting a new puppy to join the family unit must rank high up in the fun things for a family to do. Usually, little thought or planning has gone into this process except for buying the puppy. It is a very special day when the puppy arrives home and the children get to see their new friend for the first time.
Children teach puppies the bad behaviours we don’t want
The puppy at this time is like a sponge when it comes to learning and the children are great teachers. This should be a great combination, however most of what the children teach will be great fun, unstructured and most likely teach the puppy bad habits. Behaviours which can be a result of this interaction are jumping up, demanding attention and seeing all children as good fun. Other behaviours which we find undesirable can also result from uncontrolled access by the children to the puppy. Puppies can soon start to pull on the lead when children taking the dog on the leash. We can teach the puppy from the start to walk correctly on the lead, but it will need adult supervision at all times. Children shouting the new dog’s name can lead to the puppy learning to ignore them so we start to lose the recall of the dog. Again this needs supervision.
Of course, the puppy and the children are just doing what comes naturally, having fun. However, the consequence of this unstructured access can diminish any training you start, put you on a path to more problematic behaviours later, or in rare cases lead to some serious issues which may warrant a visit from the police.
Puppy training and children: how to ensure success
The reality is there is no easy solution. Most clients I have discussed this with are unaware of the impact this relationship can have. It should be common sense that young children should never be left alone with a dog, even for a few moments. Given some of the sad stories I read in the media common sense seems lacking.
Puppy training with older children
Older children should have structured access and be involved with any training programme. It is a good idea to get them to be responsible for a certain aspect of the training as this will give them an understanding of why some of their actions towards the puppy don’t help with training. A quick look on Amazon showed there are a number of books available which are aimed and having a dog and children and how to get them involved the right way.
Having children in the family when a new puppy is introduced into the home can be really good if it is planned correctly. If the puppy and the children learn from the start that certain behaviours are undesirable and that the relationship can be great fun if done correctly then you can still achieve a well-balanced and behaved dog.
Contact me before you get the puppy
If you are thinking of getting a puppy or a new dog to join your family then the best time to speak to a trainer is before the dog arrives. That way the dog will be getting the right message from day one