Parents, please do your part to help your child and your dog’s relationship to succeed. Teach your children that the place to be wild and crazy is away from your dog (and unknown dogs). If your dog (or a loose or leashed unknown dog) becomes overly aroused, movement will keep that arousal curve moving forward. Kids should be taught how to stand still and be a tree with their hands under their armpits to lower the dog’s arousal.
Parents, please remember, you have an important role to play in helping your children and your dog succeed…including preventing dog bites.
Please click here to ready my post: Supervising dogs and kids is not enough.
To learn more about dog body language, please click here: dog body language
Please watch this video below of how two girls practiced teaching their puppy recall.
Parents…I wanted to share another reminder that Dog Super Heroes avoid head locks and big bear hugs as that can make a dog feel very uncomfortable – and past experiences build future associations. Instead of a head lock, your child can sit beside or in front of your dog, careful not to loom over your dog. If your dog disengages, turns or moves away, and has tense body muscles teach your child to give your dog some space. Your dog will thank you, and that helps foster positive relationships.
If you have a child and a dog, these books are colorful, well written and packed with important lessons on being a dog super hero.
May I Pet Your Dog by Stephanie Calmenson
Whether your child is afraid of dogs of loves them, May I Pet Your Dog is beautifully written book leads readers step-by-step on how to properly greet a dog. Using Harry the dachshund as a gentle guide, children see a variety of situations and learn how to meet dogs in a positive, welcoming way.
Good Dog! Kids Teach Kids About Dog Behavior & Training by Evelyn Pang
What I love about this book is that it is written by kids for kids covering the essentials of responsible and effective dog care and t
My Dog! A Kids Guide To Keeping A Happy And Healthy Pet by Michael J. Rosen
A primer, an owner’s manual, a field guide, and more, My Dog! is the complete book for every child who has a dog―whether it’s a brand-new puppy or adopted mutt, or a beloved pooch who’s been in the family for years.
Puppy Training for Kids: Teaching Children the Responsibilities and Joys of Puppy Care, Training, and Companionship by Colleen PelarThis book uses a combination of photos and easy to read and understand language to share with children modern, proven, humane methods to teach their puppy or dog.
Max Talks To Me by Claire Buckwald
Alex and his dog Max are true friends—the kind that share each other’s excitement, comfort each other when they are sad, wait together when parents are away, and have fun wherever they are. Alex is learning that every good relationship is a two-way street. By observing and listening to his dog, by sharing good times and bad, he and Max are earning each other’s love and devotion. Parents will appreciate the information about animal communication and the dog-child bond that they will find at the end of Max Talks to Me. Children will want to share Max and Alex’s adventures and friendship over and over as they read the gentle, engaging story and look at the beautiful illustrations.
Buddy Unchained by Daisy Bix
Buddy Unchained is the 2007 winner of the Humane Society of the US KIND Award, Best Children’s Picture Book of the Year and the ASPCA HENRY BERGH AWARD, best Children’s Picture Book in the Companion Animal category. It is a very moving story of a once abandoned dog and how his being adopted into a loving home has changed his life. It reminds children of the importance of being kind to animals.
Parents, please remember. Past experience is how animals learn. Every interaction between your child and your dog teaches your dog whether or not to feel good about being near your child. Dogs may tolerate bear hugs but they do not enjoy them. This dog’s open mouth, relaxed body muscles, and posture (close to the child and not leaning away) shows us he is feeling good about this moment. To strengthen your child’s relationship with your dog, look to create lots of GOOD moments between your dog and your child.
The Red Light, Green Light game uses play and exercise to build skills of self-control in your dog. It is a ton of fun for both you and your four legged friend.
A pre-requisite for this game is to first work on teaching your dog controlled behaviors such as sit or down. This is a great way for building more value for those behaviors.
Begin by moving around until your dog begins to move also. Before your dog becomes overly aroused, stop your movement. If you have been practicing that controlled behavior on cue, then you can give your dog the cue as soon as you stop. You become very still and be a tree. As soon as he does the controlled behavior, then give him his release cue (such as ‘release’ or ‘let’s play’), and encourage him to move as you move.
As you are having success, you can increase the difficulty by doing more active behavior to get your dog in a more active state and then ask for the controlled behavior by giving your cue.
You can also work on duration of your controlled behavior before giving your release cue. (Remember that when you are working on building duration, you are adding very short amounts of time – seconds – before giving your release cue.)
Additionally, you can also work in exercises to teach your dog to go into a calmer state. When you stop movement, either sit or stand and ask for your dog to lay down (or you can simply wait for your dog to lay down). Then go through a shaping process of calmly reaching down and giving your dog a treat as you notice his body muscles begin to relax.
You can include several people with this game too, just make sure that when you stop and give your dog the cue for his behavior, that EVERYONE stops moving at once and BEGINS moving at once.
Make sure you give your dog clarity when it is time to end the game. I tell Sam ‘all done’ when we are finished training or playing. After this game, you may want to sit for a few minutes immediately afterward to make it even more clear for your dog. Once you have given your dog the end game cue, then it is absolutely important that you ignore any and all attempts by your dog to keep the game going. If you give in, then you will be teaching your dog that bumping or jumping on you, or other attention soliciting behavior works to get play to resume.
This is a fun game to involve children too; however, always play this with adults present. To help kids have more success, adults should first play this with their dog to teach their dog the game rules – and children should not be encouraged to be wild and crazy around their dog, as their dog’s arousal may escalate quickly. Teaching children how to be still, like a tree, when their dog is a great safety measure for both kids and dog.
There is so much written out there about the benefits to kids of having a dog. And, for the majority of families who are reading this, you know this first hand. I know I do. Growing up, I had a very special relationship with our poodle.
As a trainer, however, I also now see situations where family dogs back away from kids or do not come when kids call. I have gotten a number of calls from concerned parents whose dog has even growled at children – or worse.
Here is the thing that we need to keep in mind, although children may adore their family pet, they do not always know ‘how’ to be a good dog friend. Kids may move quickly, yell and scream, lean over dogs, grab for dogs or any number of other things.
As a parent, caregiver and/or other adult role model you have a very important job to do – to help that relationship between your child or children and your dog (and other dogs) succeed.
I talk a lot about steps adults can take and one of them is supervision. However, supervision is defined in many ways. Advice is given often to parents that dogs and young kids should never be left in a room alone together, but passive supervision (meaning the adult is in the same room, yet focused on other things) can also have the potential of being unsafe. It can take a split second for an incident to escalate.
Active supervision is when you are watching your kids and your dog, and are able to intervene if necessary. Taking that one step further, in order to know when intervention is needed, it is important to be able to recognize trouble.
Here are a few observations that can help you to be a better, more effective active supervisor.
Know how a dog shows he is content. Generally, your dog’s muscles will be loose and relaxed. His mouth may be open, he may be panting with a regular tempo, his tail and ears will be held in their natural positions, and his tail may wag from side to side or in a circular motion. He may be engaged with and or nudging up to your child.
Know how a dog shows he is uncomfortable with your child. Some of the signs to watch for include that your dog may step back, turn away, shake, lick his lips, yawn, have a closed and tense mouth, have ears pinned back, hold his tail down, roll over on his back in a sign of submission, or show a half moon of white in his eyes.
Know how a dog escalates his body language. If you do not recognize and intervene, your dog may have a raised and rigid tail, he may bark and move backward (or position himself over his forelegs, ready to lunge), stare at your child, show his teeth or growl. This escalation can occur within seconds, especially if there is a history of your dog having his early warning signs listened to.
Know when your dog is beginning to become aroused. A few signs to watch for include a low and deliberate tail wag (or tail held high), tense body muscles, standing with his weight on his front legs. Also, your dog may begin jumping and chasing your child.
If your dog is exhibiting any of the signs that I have listed, it is time to intervene. Please do not punish your dog for communicating in his language how he feels. Instead, redirect your child or your dog or both and allow your dog the temporary distance that he wants.
Additionally, you should intervene if your child pulls your dogs ears, tail or other body part; pokes your dog; or jumps, chases, lays on, holds your dog in a headlock.
Raising dog Super Heroes is no easy task but the rewards are so great.
If you have a young child, please consider registering for my next My Dog’s Super Hero class. I teach children (with a parent) how dogs communicate, how to be a good dog teacher, and how to be a fun and safe friend. Please visit my CLASSES page for upcoming information.
I am so looking forward to the Paw Joggers Rescue Run on October 18, and hope you will join me.
The event is the brainchild of Billie Mendoza, founder and owner of Paw Joggers, a pet fitness and in-home care service, who I have known for years. Since beginning her business, it has grown to serve much of our region including Northern Kentucky. And, as a way of giving back, Billie wanted to raise money for local rescues.
The Paw Joggers Animal Community Fund (Paw Joggers ACF) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting the local animal welfare community through events, awareness, and monetary donations. The Paw Joggers ACF and its events are powered solely by Paw Joggers Runvolunteers.
The October 18 event will benefit 43 area animal rescue and advocacy groups. It will include a 5K and 2K raise for people participating with or without dogs. Last year more than 750 raced and $10,659 was given to 32 organizations. Billie and her volunteers are expecting many more this year.
I’m excited that this is my second year being a presenter for the event. I will be leading a contest for children and their dogs, judging with audience participation in categories such as the cutest trick behavior, the best listener (for a dog who listens to and does behaviors asked), and more. If you have a child who will be participating in the race this year, please be sure to enter!
The event will be Sunday, October 18 from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm. The race will begin at 10:00 am. It will be at Sharon Woods Park, 11450 Lebanon Rd; Sharonville, OH 45241.
To register, please visit this link. http://pawjoggersrescuerun.com/
One way you can help your child be a dog Super Hero is by jump starting your dog’s training (with sample behaviors like sit and come) and then teaching your child how to practice teaching your dog with positive reinforcement. Not only will you build your child’s confidence as he/she sees her accomplishments, you will be teaching your dog positive associations with your child which leads to positive relationships. A word of caution about your child walking a big dog: if your dog sees something and suddenly lunges or lurches toward it, your child could get hurt and your dog may be loose to run toward that stimulus. Always be very careful to actively supervise and be watching the surroundings as well as your dog’s body language. Even better, you can hold onto a second leash.