Children can be great at training the family dog!! Once old enough to interact safely with domestic animals, your child is ready to learn the dog training basics. I taught my own kids to behave safely around dogs, and they have become excellent and enthusiastic trainers of all our dogs, too!
Studies have observed the many benefits of children growing up around dogs, caring for family pets, and training dogs, including:
- Strengthening the bond between your dog and your child.
- Reducing any fear your child may have of the dog.
- Teaching the dog how to interact safely with your child.
- Improving the behavior of both the dog and the child.
- Providing consistent training for the dog.
There are several key factors for a successful and positive experience of children training the family dog: a basic understanding of canine behavior; a good relationship; consistency; and proper techniques. Remember that you will always have to be present during the initial stages of this endeavor to supervise both your child and dog.
To get your pooch and your child comfortable working together, begin by teaching the dog how to behave around children and your children how to behave around dogs. After that, get your kids to go over all commands that your dog already knows. This boosts the child’s confidence and teaches the dog what to expect when interacting with the smaller-sized people of the family.
Sit is a great first command for a child to start with. It helps if your dog already knows how to sit on command. In the beginning stages, make sure the dog is on a leash or a harness to provide you with control if needed. With treats in hand, have the child approach the dog, pet the dog, and then tell the dog to sit as the treat is shown. Let the two proceed with the reward-based training the usual way, as you observe it.
If the dog doesn’t sit, but continues trying to play, your child should cross their arms over their chest and turn around, denying the dog attention. When the dog does sit, the child should praise and pet the dog and give it a treat. This makes it clear for the dog that following the command will result in treats and praise, while ignoring the command will result in the withdrawal of praise and attention.
Have your child practice this with the dog often, and you’ll notice a strengthened relationship between the dog and the child and your dog will obey the sit command better!
After your child and dog are working well together on a specific command that the dog already knows, you can move onto something new. The “no jumping” command is a good second step for kids to teach dogs. Dogs often get excited and playful around children, and jumping up onto children is the way they express that exuberance.
The process is simple. When the dog starts jumping excitedly, the child should immediately cross their arms over the chest and turn around away from the dog. They should not interact with the dog until the dog has calmed down or is sitting down calmly. After that, ask the kid to turn back to their dog and lavish them with pets and praise.
Teaching the dog not to jump on the child or on anyone else is a great way to reduce a child’s fear of a dog and to make sure no one gets hurt during playtime with the family pet. It also helps to raise a well-behaved canine!
Rinse and Repeat
“Sit” and “No Jumping” commands are a good place to start, but there are plenty of other dog training tricks you and your kid can delve into. As long as you supervise your little one, this process can be repeated with any command that you want the dog to learn.
The most important thing is that your child be consistent with the pet. Any unwanted behavior should be met with crossed arms, ignoring and turning around. When the dog demonstrates the desired behavior, then the dog should immediately get treats, petting, and praise. With consistency, your dog will quickly learn to act accordingly in order to get the rewards that come with good behavior.
Things to Watch Out For
Kids can be great trainers for dogs if they are consistent and follow the outlined strategy. But kids, as everyone knows, will sometimes have their own ideas about how to do things. A child who is having a bad day, a tantrum, or losing patience can undo much of the training that you’ve done with your dog.
It’s important to make sure that your child is calm, in a patient state of mind, and wanting to train the dog before starting a training session. Do not force your kid into dog training because it will not be a positive experience for either the kid or the dog.
If your child is tired, cranky, or yelling and acting out, it is not the time that he or she should be training the dog and training should put it off for another day. It’s better to wait on the training session than to risk the health of your kid, your dog or sabotaging all the training that has already been done.
Consider taking your kids and dogs to take dog training classes together. Training classes are a fantastic way for your child to learn how to train the dog effectively while under the supervision of an expert.
Working with a true canine expert can be an exciting experience for your child and result your kid following all dog training directions to the letter. Training classes will strengthen the bond between the child and the dog, speed up the whole process, and make sure that the child knows how to take charge and instruct the dog in a safe way.
The Bottom Line
To summarize, if you want your child to be more involved in training the dog, start by teaching safe interaction with the dog, go through some basic commands, and then consider having the dog and child take an obedience training class together. The bond between a child and their dog can form an incredible and loving relationship that is cherished for a lifetime. By working closely together through training, your dog and child will strengthen their bond, practice good behavior, receive a sense of accomplishment, and have a ton of fun all at the same time!
About the Author:
Samantha Randall is a freelance writer focused on pets and pet owners. She has written content for a number of popular pet-related websites, including Diamond Pet Food, Tractive and Rover. She is well-known for her work as the Editor-in-Chief at Top Dog Tips. Samantha is a graduate of the University of Maine and has been a freelance writer for the past 10 years. Being a dog lover and pet owner for more than 30 years, she quickly found her niche writing articles to help educate pet owners and share innovative pet products with her loyal readers. Samantha enjoys being a freelance writer, spending time with her family and, of course, going on adventures with her beloved dogs.