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News and Information about Dogs, Cats, and Pet Products

A common concern I receive from parents is their dog ignores their small child (from toddler through grade school, even high school). Whether it is the dog pulling on sleeves and pants or jumping on the children, the bottom line is the dog isn’t listening to anything the child is saying.

Most kids only know how to be kids. Kids are loud, fast, darty, bouncy, goofy, and confusing. All of this is interpreted by the dog in a million different ways. Here are a few of the biggest mistakes I see kids making:

Run Away. Of course a kid isn’t standing there while his dog jumps, nips or chases. The child is going to do what his DNA says to do. Run Away! However, this speaks as more fun for the dog! Instead, we teach children to Be A Tree, while calling or counting loudly. A cue to a parent to intervene quickly. Stop, look at your feet, fold your hands. Start calling loudly to parent. Dogs don’t chase trees. Be A Tree.

Yelling. I frequently hear kids yelling. First they are yelling just because kids can be naturally loud. But that turns into yelling cues to the dog or yelling at the dog to stop the unwanted. Or yelling louder because the dog is ignoring them, but the dog has tuned out the yelling.

Rapid Fire Cues. I hear parents faulty of this but I hear nearly 100% of kids rapid fire at their dog. “Fido! Sit Sit Sit Sit Sit Sit. Fido! Sit. Sit. Sit. Sit. Sit!” Usually including a finger point or sometimes a sharp finger to the dog’s shoulder. The dog tunes out the rapid fire cues, I would tune you out too, if you said, “have a seat on the couch, have a seat on the couch, have a seat on the couch.”

What a dog trainer’s kid does: I started guiding my Little on proper training and interactions around 18 months old with our Hadley, our Yellow Labrador. Up until this point, there was non-stop management and re-direction to keep both kid and dog safe.

Height helps. I used a 2 level step stool. The height helps the kid have some confidence and keeps safe distances from dog to eliminate silly kid reactions if the dog does something unexpected. She would run through our dog’s behaviors with my guidance. Kids love to help with training sessions because they think its magnificent when the dog listens to them. The height also helps the dog learn high value kid treats are tossed to the floor so dog will learn to keep space from kid and turn focus to floor once kid is on the floor.

Delivering cues. She uses both hand cues and verbal cues together. Then she would use only hand and then only verbal. Then she would squeal when Hadley would respond. Ha!

Ask/Wait. My Little learned on the first training session from her stop stool, We ask Hadley ONCE then count to 5 before we ask again. We never rapid fire cues.

Kiss A Hip. My Little always offers our pup love in the morning when she wakes and in the evening before bed, but she will always kiss/hug Hadley’s hip. Never Hadley’s face or mouth. Never her nose or feet. She shows respect to our dog by kissing the least offensive or intimidating part of the dog. The back end!

Stranger Dogs. My daughter would never run up to any dog. She knows to ask permission from the owner before touching. She know to let the dog approach her because not all dogs want to be pet. She knows to pet on the shoulders or hips.

As soon as your child is old enough to understand what you are communicating to them in life, teach them to properly communicate to a dog!

You can contact Amber Walker at (630) 53-PUPPY, amber@aitrainers.com or visit her website www.aitrainers.com.

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