Experienced dog owners know just how important it is to have everyone under one roof well-educated on dog ownership, and dog-related responsibilities.
Sharing dog-related obligations make owning a dog much easier and more fun. This is especially true when you have a kid or children who are enthusiastic about getting a dog.
To keep everyone happy and safe around dogs, everyone should know the basics of dog training and safe child-dog interaction.
Teaching your kid to train your dog is a great way to make their bond stronger, and promote healthy kid-dog relationships.
Plus, getting a dog and teaching your kid to train him will teach your kid responsibility, and give them some serious organization skills.
Can Dogs Teach Kids Responsibility
Simply said, yes.
Dogs are creatures of habits and routine is what makes them happy. While kids enjoy walking dogs and have fun running through the dog park with them, they are learning how to care for a living being.
At the same time, they tend to develop a greater sense for others, they know that they are responsible for dogs’ toilet breaks, exercise needs, and basic grooming.
How Often Should I Groom My Dog? Brushing is a great way to make the bond between kid and dog stronger.
Plus, caring for a Fido (regardless of his age, size, and activity levels) teaches children commitment and consistency, plus it helps them build self-confidence.
Pet Responsibilities For Kids According To Their Age
Many families with kids have dogs, but not every family knows how to distribute dog-related responsibilities based on the kid’s age.
Kids can handle many responsibilities, but they cannot handle all of the responsibilities at any age.
Even if your kids seem more than mature for their age, you shouldn’t put more additional responsibilities on them.
Always adjust responsibilities to their age. That being said, here is a brief presentation on pet responsibilities for kids by age:
- Infants and Toddlers – under the age of 3. During this period your kid should learn how to interact safely with the dog. Your dog should also know how to behave and move around kids. Before the age of 3, any interaction between kids and dogs should be supervised.
- Preschool Children – ages 3 to 5. During this period your kid should be well-aware of pet-related tasks but should perform them independently. Some of the duties that kids of this group may perform may include serving the dog his meal (dry food).
- Early Elementary School – ages 6 to 9. This is the time when your kid is ready for ‘bigger’ responsibilities. Two major responsibilities in this period should include daily dog feeding, and supervised walks.
- Teens And Beyond – ages ten and above. At this period your kid should be able to independently know the dog’s feeding routine, exercise and training regime, and how to brush your Fido. Still, you should provide supervision whenever your kid is engaged with the dog.
Make sure that your kid understands at any age why dog-related duties are important and how they keep dogs healthy, strong, and happy.
When explained, they will have a better understanding of the dog’s well-being.
To make things more organized, have a daily to-do list, and set expectations right.
Now, let’s see how dog training for kids should look.
Dog Training For Kids
When it comes to training the most important thing is consistency.
No matter how much experience you might have as a dog owner, it’s crucial to remain consistent.
Make sure that you include every family member in the training process so you can have the entire family on the same page training-wise.
As for dog training for kids, you should focus on the following elements.
1. Let Your Kid Inside the Canine Circle
People learn the best through doing. If you want your kid to excel at something, make sure that you involve them.
Explain to your kid what a baby voice is and why dogs love those high votes.
The training process should be something that can bring the entire family together, so look at it as such.
2. Teach Them to Ignore Jumping
Kids should know that dogs use body language to communicate. They should understand that when dogs behave in a certain way it’s because they want something. However, kids should know that when dogs jump, they should ignore them.
In fact, kids should turn their back to dogs when they start jumping intensely.
This is how dogs usually calm their temper. Plus, this is how training works.
Once your kids turn their back on the dog, they should give the dog a choice: to sit or to turn their back on him.
Once they turn around, and the dog chooses to sit he can get a treat.
Ignoring jumping is also a great way for your kids to pass further their knowledge, as they can teach house visitors how to act around Fido, as well.
3. Let Kids Have Their Own Commands
Did you know that dogs are capable of mastering basic commands at eight weeks of age? This is why training should start as soon as you bring your Fido home.
Some of the basic commands are:
Commands may differ from breed to breed, but these are some of the most common words that you can hear in a dog park.
Teaching your kid these commands is just the first step. Educating them to understand them is a separate task.
Kids tend to confuse commands and their meaning, especially if we are talking about younger children.
That being said, stick to two basic commands. These two commands should be mandatory:
This way your kid will easily focus and your dog will know what to do once he hears them.
4. Using Treats and Praise
When it comes to dog training, treats and praise can take you a long way. Dogs love rewards. More precisely, they are true food-lovers, as they are food-driven.
As such, they will do anything to get a delicious treat. The puppy needs to learn that once he can get a cookie only once he performs a trick.
Tell your kid to tell the dog to ‘cit’ and to reward him with a cookie after the trick is completed.
Socialization Comes First
The biggest difference between a dog and a well-behaved dog citizen is structured training and early socialization.
Puppy socialization starts as early as 7 to 8 weeks and this is the period that should be used to start training.
During this period you should also think about dog house rules. Certain rules should help you create a safe environment for both you/your family and your dog, while well-designed and well-implemented dog house rules can make a safe environment.
If your family counts other members as well, this should be a family agreement.
- Will you allow your puppy to sleep with you?
- Is furniture off-limits?
- Do you have an agreement on dog-related duties, who will do what?
- Are you all on the same page commands-wise?
- Are there any rooms or areas where your dog won’t be allowed?
- Will there be a safe space for your dog?
- What are your dog’s rules for greeting visitors?
- Where will your dogs eat their meals?
- Who will supervise the interaction between kids and dogs?
- Who will be responsible for creating the walk schedule?
Introduce Dog Equipment to Your Kid?
Once your kid learns basic dog commands, you should educate your kid on dog equipment.
Before your Fido arrives you should provide the right training equipment and other dog essentials, such as a dog bed, water and food bowl, and treats.
Shop for an ordinary dog collar and leash, and if your kid desires it – once the dog arrives, go together to the pet store and buy a new collar and leash that is more fit for your dog’s personality.
Here is a shortlist of the most important dog equipment that your kid should be familiar with:
- Food and drink bowls
- Clothing if you are based in more cold or rainy area, or if you are getting a skin-sensitive breed
- Leash or harness
- Identity tag
- Dog leads
Keeping Young Children Safe Around Dogs
Seeing kids and dogs together is so cute.
They learn from each other – kids are taught to be responsible and organized, while dogs get to have all the fun in the world.
However, for this interaction to be safe, there should be some rules, otherwise, even the nicest dog can be triggered.
In reality, this means that kids should know not to pull a dog’s ears, tail, or hair, to make any sudden moves in general, or to interrupt dogs while they are eating, drinking water, or resting.
Handling a dog rough in any way may lead to the dog losing his tolerance and deciding to bite out of a warning. This is why strict rules on behavior should be implemented.
Do not let your kids hug dogs, sit on them, or invade dog’s personal space on any way.
This is something that will create greater security and overall safe dog-kid interaction.
How to Teach Your Kid to Walk the Dog
Kids love walking dogs, and there is nothing wrong with it. At least there shouldn’t be an issue as long as kids know how to walk dogs.
First – at what age it is ok for kids to walk dogs?
This may vary from household to household, and the breed of the dog may a lot affect it, but as a general rule, no kid under the age of ten should walk a large dog if there isn’t at least one adolescent.
Another general rule is that by the time kids turn nine, they should know how to walk a dog with adults monitoring them from nearby.
The third general rule is that between the ages of ten and eleven, kids can walk their dog solo as long as they can physically restrain him.
Before we explain how to teach your kid to walk your family dog, let’s see if your kid is ready for this big responsibility.
Is Your Child Ready to Walk the Dog?
Walking the dog alone is a big responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Before you let your kid walk the dog alone, certain factors should be considered.
- Size. How big is your dog? Can your kid physically restrain the dog if the situation demands it? If the danger occurs, your kid needs to be strong enough to react quickly and if needed to pull the dog.
- Obedience training. Your kid needs to know the basics of owning a dog. This means that obedience training is in order. Kids should know basic commands and dogs must see them as pack leaders.
- Reading the body language. Kids should know that dogs communicate using their body language. If the hair on the dog’s back goes up, the kid should know that it means that a dog is thinking about defending himself or attacking, or if the tail is ducked under it means that the dog is scared. These simple moments can make walks safer.
Important: Explain to your kid that in case of a dog fight, they should never try to separate dogs with their bare hands. We will elaborate on this one later on.
Make sure that you monitor every walk and that your kid knows how to hold a leash.
Now, let’s see how to teach your kid how to walk a dog safely.
Teach Your Kid to Walk the Dog
Walking the dog is a big responsibility. Still, it’s an activity that is mandatory and it can help your kid build further self-esteem.
The most important thing about walking the dog is providing the right support.
Your kid should know that you are there, to guide them, monitor, and solve any doubt with the right information.
That being said, make sure that your kid knows the following on how to walk a dog:
- Tone is the first step. Make sure that you use the right tone. Teach your kid that confident ‘sit’ is what works.
- The leash. Dogs get super excited when they see the leash. This is why the ‘sit’ or ‘wait’ command is important – it keeps the dog’s energy controlled. Plus, the excited dog can easily flip a smaller kid. Allow your kid to pat the dog as a reward for waiting.
- Walk on. This is the most important step, as it’s crucial to teach the dog to walk with you, at your pace. It’s normal for dogs to walk faster than humans, so teach your dog to follow you and not the other way around. Otherwise, you or your kid will end up chasing your dog. Children are not strong as dogs are which is why creating and establishing kids’ authority is important. Start with a command, such as ‘walk on!’ and begin to move forward. Reward your dog. Repeat the command. Reward.
- Create a routine. Make sure that you know how many times your kid will walk the dog and at what time. Always have an adult nearby. Stick to a routine. Let your kid feel like the leader of the pack and the authority.
Now that you have a better understanding of why it’s important to have some rules when it comes to walks, let’s see how to prevent dog bites.
Understanding Dog Bites In Children
Dogs bite. This is how they communicate their fear, aggression, and attack.
Any dog, no matter how small size he might be, can bite. The cutest and smallest dog will bite when provoked.
Did you know that the highest number of dog bites happen when dogs feel they are threatened in some way?
This is something that you should communicate with your kids and explain to them what usually triggers dogs to bite.
Here is a quick list of why dogs usually bite:
- As a way to defend themself
- To defend his territory
- To defend his people
- Running from another dog or animal
- Experiencing some form of anxiety
- A dog is in pain
- A dog is injured
In most cases, a dog bite is just a reaction to something and not a need to bite a human. This is why prevention matters.
Here is how to keep your kid safe around dogs and prevent bites:
- Socialize your dog early on
- Provide early training sessions
- Expose your dog to new surroundings, sounds, people, and places
- Never discipline your dog using harsh treatment
- Always keep your dog on a leash
- Keep your dog in sight at all times
- If you notice any aggression in your dog warn others
- Think about using dog muzzle
- Keep vaccination up to date
- Provide regular veterinarian check-ups
For extra precaution, educate your kids on how to prevent dog bites. They should know that bites are a possible scenario when there is an animal or animals around.
Here are some tips to share with your kid today:
- Walks should be on a leash no matter what
- Tell them that everyone should ask if it’s allowed to pat the dog
- Teach kids to ‘be a tree’ – this means that they should stand quietly, with hands set low and in front of them – this is a common scenario if a dog goes toward them. If they are knocked down, they should know to cover their head and neck with their arms and curl into a ball. This way they will protect their neck and face
- Yelling is fine to reach for help
- When on walks kids should wear firm shoes, no open toes, so they don’t trip over
- Having a bottle of water is ok, because professional dog trainers often use water to separate aggressive dogs, by splashing water into their faces
Last, but not least – educate kids at a level that they can understand.
Don’t expect toddlers and younger to master dog body language, but focus on gentle behavior around dogs. That being said, let’s see how you can easily introduce your dog to your new baby.
Introducing Your Dog to Your New Baby
Everything dog-related should be done with a plan and gradually. The same applies to baby introduction.
Dogs are usually great with babies and fall in love with them at first sight, but still, it’s better to do it slowly.
First comes preparation. Before the baby arrives, expose your dog to babies and children.
Some dogs may get scared of seeing small humans, as they have no idea what to do with them.
The rest is just logical flow:
- Once the baby arrives ignore the attention-seeking behavior
- Trim dog’s nails
- Lower dog’s excitement
- Set the nursery earlier so your dog can get used to it
- Schedule a vet visit before the baby arrives to make sure that you are up to date with all the shots
- When the baby arrives, introduce the baby’s scent to your dog
- Have nursery boudaries
- Let your Fido see and sniff the baby
- Once you are sure that surrounding is safe, let your dog come closer
- Make sure that you include your dog in baby-related acitvities
- Do not ignore your dog when he is near the baby
- Reward your dog for a nice behavior around the baby
- Before the baby arrives you should introduce the following to your dog: baby sounds, the baby moves such as poking, grabbing, and pulling
Are you just thinking about getting a dog for your family? If so, you will enjoy the next lines.
Best Dog Breeds For Families With Children
If you think that your family is ready for a new member, or that your kid is ready for dog-related responsibilities, you should focus on getting the right breed.
If you’re an experienced dog owner already, then you know already that dogs who love to cuddle are commonly great family dogs, as they are people-oriented, big pleasers, and insist on spending time with their family members.
In fact, true family dogs will insist on participating in every family activity.
Top Five Dog Breeds For Families
- Labrador Retriever
- Golden Retriever
Family dogs are usually a great choice when it comes to sharing responsibilities with kids.
Family dogs love being around children, and they come with natural instincts to protect them. Plus, training them is easy.
For a better understanding of different dog breeds, you should compare dog breeds and find the breed that suits you the best.
Pro tip: Make sure that you can meet the dog’s needs and that you can keep up with the dog’s energy. For example, if you don’t enjoy maNy outdoor activities, Border Collie or any other breed of high-energy levels isn’t for you.
If you have your eyes set on a certain breed, but you are not sure if that breed is for you, or another breed could be a better match, check this tool on dog comparison to learn what breed is for you and your kid.
The Bottom Line
Getting a dog is easy, but providing the care for another living being is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Not only that you should provide the right nutrition, care, veterinarian check-up, and training, but you should share dog obligations with other family members as well.
This is why teaching your kid how to behave around dogs is so important.
Training should be presented as something that is fun, but also educational.
Teaching your kid how to behave around dogs is also how you will keep them safe around dogs and enable a stronger bond between Fido and your kid or kids.