Dog Tricks are the Key to Getting Your Kids Involved in Training

Please note: this article applies to happy, friendly dogs that do not have problems with aggression or other serious behavior issues. For these types of problems it is suggested to call a certified CPDT-KA or contact your veterinarian.

Did you know that almost 80% of family dogs in this country are usually trained by moms? What starts off as a good idea–getting a dog for the family–often ends up being the responsibility of mom.  Want to get your kids back in the picture and have them involved in training?  The answer may be as simple as adding some trick training to the repertoire.

Here are some pointers to keep in mind when starting any training program with your dog. All dogs respond better to training when they earn all of their rewards including food and treats, petting and play.  There are no freebies. When I work with families I usually suggest a plan of leadership with all family members school age and beyond repeating the same consistent behaviors with the family pet; all learning to speak “dog”.  Of course all interactions between children and dogs should be supervised. And even well-meaning friends can behave inappropriately with the family pet leading to safety issues.  By getting everyone on board early to understand how to stay safe and have fun, training becomes a part of everyday living.

One program that really gets kids excited about working with their dogs is Trick Training.  One of the foremost authors on the subject is Kyra Sundance has published more than 15 books on the topic.  Her books are richly illustrated and geared toward making your dog into a little circus performer.  But the best part is as the dog is taught the behaviors, they improve in their relationship with the family. They begin to understand and respond to commands.  And your children can earn national titles with their pets all in the comfort of their home with her “Do More With Your Dog Program”.

When introducing trick training adults should supervise the interaction between child and dog to offer encouragement and to make sure interaction is appropriate.  Training should be kept fun and positive, with praise and treats for good behavior.  It is far easier to start where there are little distractions such as indoors before attempting to train outdoors.  When working outdoors care should be taken to be in a “safe” area such as a fenced yard and it is often easier to gain the dog’s attention after they have had a some exercise and not after eating a big meal.  This usually makes them sleepy or unresponsive.

Trick training is “real” obedience because it teaches your dog to give attention when asked, to understand and perform a specific behavior, to enjoy working with their owners, and to adapt to new environments. Some favorite tricks of my students includes teaching their dogs to “say their prayers”, to jump through hoops and dance with them.  But my favorite part is having their children get excited when I arrive for a lesson to show me what they have trained their dog to do this week. In order to get the dog to understand that they must listen to their young trainers, parents should take an active role getting things started by modeling the behavior and then having their child follow accordingly.

And not surprisingly, many of the children that took an interest in their dogs early on are now active doing community service with their dogs as therapy teams and visit local hospitals and nursing homes. Some have even gone on to earn titles with their pets in obedience, rally and agility or had the thrill of entertaining their scouting friends and classmates as they work toward their badges.  It is a great lesson in patience, perseverance and success!

Want to get started?  Here are some links to find out more information about trick training.  And of course consulting a local  Certified Pet Dog Trainer (CPDT-KA) that is certified for trick training is a great start too.

For more information on trick training here are some handy resources:

http://domorewithyourdog.com/pages/spark.html

http://www.caninescando.com

Written by award-winning writer and trainer Dorice Stancher, MBA, CPDT-KA owner of Canines Can Do, llc. Her dogs are multiple titled in conformation, obedience/rally, trick training, and enjoy kayaking, surfing, skijoring and dog sledding.

Don’t Bite Me!

It might seem cute when your puppy chews on your fingers, until you feel those sharp little teeth!  Ouch!  It’s time to put an end to puppy play biting.  While it’s natural for your puppy to want to explore the world around him with his mouth, it’s just not acceptable in our homes.  

When nipped at most people pull their hands away.  Dogs see this as a game and it reinforces their urge to want to bite even more.  Shouting won’t make the behavior stop.  And hitting is out of the question.  So what to do?  You can say “Ouch” and walk away from the puppy.  We don’t want to reward the biting with attention.   You can also offer an acceptable chew toy in order to re-direct the behavior.  Another option is to put a deterrent on your hand and clothing (dog and child safe of course) so that the puppy realizes you aren’t very tasty.  Remember, everyone in your home must be consistent in order for training to be successful.  It also is a good idea to teach your dog that “everything has a price” so that he knows that all his “good stuff” comes from you.

Make your dog happy…

Dogs are the most wonderful and amazing creatures.  They give so much love without asking for much in return…a warm bed, food and water.  They don’t care what you look like, or smell like, or what car you drive.  The love unconditionally, and are there when we need them perhaps even more than some humans we know.  Let’s face it, they deserve more than a 15 minute walk in the dark when we come home from work.

This is where Canines Can Do can help.  Make it a special night out with your furry kid and have some fun training with us.  Our obedience classes cover more than just the basics.  We will introduce you to the fun of scent training, tricks, therapy work, agility and more!  It’s all about having fun with the best partner you’ll ever have…your dog!

My first positively trained dog was Duffy, a Soft-Coated Wheaten Terrier that took me on many adventures.  I was told this was a stubborn and willful breed that I would have to use punitive methods with to get results.

Fortunately I had some excellent mentors including Bill Delaney (deceased) the original owner of The American Canine Academy and Betsy Scapicchio, owner of Top Dog Obedience School, and we wound up winning titles including High in Trial as novices at the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America National Specialty!  Duffy became a therapy dog, a therapy evaluator dog, an AKC ACE nominee, a NJVMA Silver Award winner, the spokes dog for the American Cancer Society (ACS) Dogswalk Against Cancer/Bark for Life appearing on television, won the ACS and earned the Wheaten Ambassador Award (Canada). An annual award given in his memory to deserving Wheaten Terriers that help their communities.

Duffy-2

Here we are winning High in Trial at the National Specialty of the Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier Club of America.  I think Duffy knew he did something special.

When you train with kindness anything is possible

After competing Duffy always enjoyed climbing trees just for fun.