Many of us feel that our family is incomplete without a dog. Adding kids to the equation can be a bundle of fun, or it can be a nightmare.
Some dogs are naturally great with kids, whereas others will need more time and training. If you’re struggling to keep your dog and children in check, you may be worried about their safety and the sanctity of your home.
Fear not, as we have all the information you need to address the problem. Read on for the top 10 tips for training kid-friendly dogs.
1. Socialize Your Dog
The window of 8-16 weeks is crucial in your dog’s development. During this time they are much more receptive to meeting new humans and animals.
This is your opportunity to introduce to your dog to children, and ensure that they accept and feel comfortable with them. It’s vital that the children are gentle and calm so that the dog associates them with good experiences and feeling safe.
If you have an older dog, you can still socialize them with children. It will take longer to do so but praise and treats will go a long way. If your dog appears stressed around children they must be separated immediately.
2. Familiarize Your Dog With Handling
Even well-behaved kids can sometimes handle dogs with a little too much enthusiasm. Before your dog encounters this first-hand, ensure they are able to withstand some rougher handling.
Using treats as a reward, train your dog to be used to gentle tail-pulling, paw prodding, and ear-exploration. If they seem unable to accept this then it may be best not to introduce them to children yet.
3. Involve The Kids
Including the kids in training your dog is not only a fun family activity. It can also teach your kids about dog behavior and how to be safe around animals.
You may be tempted to keep them separate so that you can have full control other the dog training. However, the benefits of including the kids can mean a more confident and cohesive family.
4. Kids Commands for Kid Friendly Dogs
What do dogs and kids have in common? They can both be very unpredictable! Giving kids their own commands with the dog will ensure that their messages are consistent.
Kids can accidentally misuse commands, confusing the dog and compromising the power of the word. Give your kids different words to use for the same outcome – this will mean when you use your word the dog responds consistently.
5. Use Praise and Treats
Teach your kids to use treats and praise with your dog. Once they understand that they can hold the key to the dog’s attention, this can make training much easier.
Dogs are very reward-driven and will likely pay attention to whoever is holding said reward. Once kids can use this to make your dog wait or come, they hold the power in the relationship.
6. Introduce All Toys
Kids toys can be just as appealing to puppies, if not more so. With all of the exciting sounds, lights and dynamic energy – they could be a big temptation to your pup. The last thing that you need is for your dog and kids to fight over toys, as this could quickly turn nasty.
Instead, introduce your dog to the kids’ toys when they’re not around. Give clear commands to stay or leave it. This will take the excitement out of the toys and prevent your dog from wanting what they can’t have.
7. No Jumping
An important lesson for all the family is to respond correctly to jumping. All puppies will jump up unless taught otherwise. Their excitement at seeing their humans can be too much to contain!
Let the family, and any visitors, know that if your dog jumps up, everyone must respond by turning their back on them. Once your dog has settled down, turn to face them again. If they remain calm they should be rewarded.
If they start to misbehave again, the process should be repeated.
8. Crate Training
Whilst familiarizing dogs and kids with each other, it’s important that the dog feels safe. If the dog feels safe, they will generally behave safely with others.
When a dog does feel threatened, a place to escape to will prevent the situation from escalating. Crate training can help a dog to feel they have their own protected environment to rest and recover from any intense interaction.
Make sure the kids know that the crate is off-limits to them and this should work well.
9. Professional Training
Whilst there is a lot that you can do yourself to train your dog, you may feel more confident with professional help.
One-to-one sessions or training groups may provide the right environment for you to build a healthy relationship with your dog. Click here to find out more.
10. Give It Time
Forcing an animal into a situation that it’s not ready for can lead to lasting fear and associated behaviors. Holding a dog whilst introducing children can make the dog feel restrained and powerless. This can result in aggressive behavior.
All dogs will adapt at different rates, so if yours is taking time to accept your children, don’t force it.
Following these tips should restore harmony and balance in your home in no time. Don’t be afraid to involve the kids in the training. Most importantly, know when it’s time to seek professional help!
Do you have any tips for training kid-friendly dogs that we’ve not included here? Let us know in the comments!