Guest Post by Paige Johnson
Bringing home a new canine companion — whether it’s a puppy or an adult — requires some clear, consistent training from the entire family. This can be more easily said than done when it comes to children; though they mean well, they’re often too distracted with the excitement over a new pet to focus on teaching positive behaviors. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can get your kids involved in the process to make the transition to a new home smoother and quicker for your dog.
1. Start with the basics
Even if your new dog is grown, he still needs to learn the rules for his new home. Your family can start showing him the ropes by identifying good behavior he exhibits naturally, like sitting or lying down. Point out these behaviors to your kids, and show each the right way to praise and reward good behavior, including offering treats in the palm of the hand to avoid accidental finger bites. If everyone is consistently implementing the same rules every day, your dog will catch on quicker, and your kids will establish their authority early on.
2. Talk about health hazards
Your entire family needs to be well-versed in what’s good for your dog and what could hurt him. Walk your kids through your home and go over exactly which items can be toxic or otherwise dangerous to a dog. Show them where potent cleaners are kept and how to store them safely out of reach, and talk to older kids about which cleaners should be used in the event of pet accidents. Talk about productive ways to deter the dog from those areas — for example, maybe he shouldn’t be allowed in the laundry room if that’s where most cleaning items are kept. If he does start nosing around cabinets that could have dangerous chemicals, discuss the proper way to scold him so he learns to steer clear.
3. Keep training materials visible around the house
It’s not as easy for kids to let training slip their minds if there are constant reminders around. They can have a clicker to keep in their backpack or tucked in the house key dish by the door. It’ll also be easier to remember to reward good behavior as it occurs, even if it’s simply the absence of a bad behavior. For example, if your daughter does her homework at the kitchen table after school and your dog quietly naps at her feet, show her how to reward him for calm behavior.
4. Give your kids some independent training time
Though it’s important to make sure your kids are training the dog properly, it isn’t always productive to constantly stand over their shoulder watching. Give your kids mini dog-sitting opportunities — it can be as simple as watching the puppy for 10 minutes while you take a shower — and follow-up on how it goes. Were there problems? Was your child able to handle it? If not, what’s a better resolution for next time? Don’t hesitate to share your own training struggles and see what your kids think about solving the problem. Working together will reinforce the idea that training is a family effort, and it’ll help identify persistent problems much more quickly.
Make your pup’s training progress a daily routine with your family. Troubleshoot issues, vent about tough training sessions, and find ways to laugh together over the process. Before you know it, your new dog will be well-acclimated to his new home and trained to your family’s content!
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.
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