Rules of the Household?
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Puppies & Children
It is very important to include children in your puppy's upbringing, regardless if there are any children living the home. You have both a responsibility to children in regards to your puppy, and a responsibility to your puppy regarding the children.
What every child should know about training puppies:
- Children should use calm, quiet vocal intonation with the puppy
- Use a gentle hand, lead or collar when handling the puppy
- Do not disturb a sleeping puppy
- Children should not tease a puppy
- Do not leave children's toys of any danger to a puppy in the presence of a puppy
As a general rule of thumb, do not allow a child to handle a puppy without the supervision of an adult, and ensure that all children understand and adhere to all agreed rules of the household and lifestyle with the puppy.
It is also important to remind owners that children do have a knack for winding-up dogs - they move erratically, use high squeaky voices and often play rough and relentless. Therefore, to avoid unwanted social behaviour in later life, discourage your children from rolling on the floor with the puppy, playing chasing games and other such potentially damaging behaviour shaping activities.
Consider that your puppy will likely start to view the child as another puppy, which will not only lead to leadership issues later in the relationship, it will encourage play bites, jumping and lunging attacks, harmless as they may seem. Play bites will not stop when the "game" stops, and will quickly become a stressful problem for the children and the puppies. In addition, teaching a puppy to be chased, in particular, will break-down your later successes with recall and overall obedience and behaviour management.
If you want to include children in the puppy training process (and this is encouraged!), teach the child how to call the puppy to them and initiate gentle play with the focus on a toy instead of the child's hands or feet. Having the puppy come to you, rather than going to the puppy establishes rank in the household and builds the foundation for recall, instilling that going to the owner is rewarding.
If the puppy becomes reliant on being visited or retrieved by its owner, its less apt to care where its owner is in later life - a curious dog that has been conditioned to having its owner follow their actions will wander off with little concern over getting lost.
In addition, get the children involved in the puppy feeding routine and early puppy training exercises. Feeding the puppy will also establish their hierarchy and enable them to teach and instil a few of the most important early command words: "sit", "leave" and "wait".
Getting children involved in puppy training
Most children, like most puppies, have short attention spans - they may show genuine desire to learn and partake in the obedience practises for the puppy, however, without the guidance and support of the senior members of the household, all good intentions are liable to back-fire for all involved. For children, it is best to keep it simple and give them rules and responsibilities that are easy to follow and assured to produce mini-victories that will build confidence in later dog handling. To start, concentrate on 2 main areas of canine communication: