How Dogs Teach Our Children Responsibility – Part 1

Samantha | November 24th, 2008
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I’ll never forget the time when I was just a six-year-old child, some 30 years ago, and my pet dog, Buddy, was laying limp all day under the living room chair – her eyes moving only occasionally. But I could care less, as I played with my toys all day.

To the eyes of a child, Buddy’s behavior was nothing to worry myself about, nothing that I needed to be concerned with, that is until my mother came into the room and disturbed the quiet.

She said, Your dog has been dozing all day. Look at her. She rarely gets up. And when she does, everything droops her nose, her ears, her tail. Would you like to change the way she looks?

Mother Turned The Family Dog Into My Teacher

With that question, my mother began her experiment. Her plan was to take my pet dog and turn her into my teacher.

My mother continued, Do you know that your dog needs your help? She needs you to make her happy. My mother asked me what things make me happy. Was it being part of the family and doing things with mom and dad? Yes. We’ll try that on Buddy. Let’s let her help us and see how we make her feel.

Mom suggested that Buddy help us take out the garbage. She put a little garbage in a small bag. I gave it to Buddy and said, Carry. My dog sniffed it, and then picked it up and started down the long apartment hallway.

That small bag changed my dog. He was no longer a shambling wad of fur, but a sleek wolf. Lazy muscles tensed, his nose stuck up in the air. He tried to walk with us but his walk slipped into a prance, then a gallop, till all we had was a bouncing back view with a tail wagging above. Buddy became a part of something and learned to enjoy it, while teaching me something in the process.

One day, by the time we made it down the hall, Buddy had delivered the garbage into the incinerator and brought it back to us four times!

What I Learned: Responsibility

The dog’s response and enthusiasm had introduced me to my first lesson responsibility. I became aware of the needs of others. My mother guided me in finding those needs and filling them. My dog encouraged repetition. I was not performing a chore, rather, I was giving something to my pet.

Lessons like this went on for 17 years till I was a junior in high school. That year Buddy died. The next year I graduated and left home. But some of the attitudes I have today can be traced back to my childhood relationship with a dog and my mother’s awareness of that potential.

How Dogs Can Help Teach Your Children Responsibility

Gemma | November 21st, 2008
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I feel bad for those parents out there who do not believe in having a dog as a family pet. Some people just do not understand how beneficial it is to have an adorable and loyal companion as a member of the family. Puppies and dogs bring an atmosphere of love into the house and in many cases, promote emotional well-being and even physical healing to people who may be experiencing an ailment.

What’s more important is that dogs are also an enormous benefit to children of all ages. Owning a dog is a great way to engage your kids in the process of responsibility. Teaching your children to be responsible is probably one of the most important aspects of being a parent. And why not have a little help in this department with the assistance of a brand-new puppy?

Once a puppy comes into your household, there are a lot of responsibilities that need to be taken care of so that the dog can be raised with good health, cleanliness, and training. Unfortunately, in this busy day and age, most of us are working eight to 12 hours daily and do not get to spend a lot of time with our children. When they come home from school and have no pressure towards completing household responsibilities, their work ethic and confidence may be shortchanged. This is where having a dog can help.

How can a dog help kids become more responsible?

Simply put, it takes a lot of work to maintain a dog in the house. And this work can be equally shared amongst your children. So long as they’re physically capable of tending to certain activities, your children will be able to help with walking the dog, feeding him, help with keeping the dog clean, play ball, etc.

It is important to also give your children the idea that the time they are spending with your puppy, and the responsibilities and which they participate in, all lead to a positive outcome. To get a better idea of what I’m referring to here, imagine that you are getting your children to help out and take care of the dog. Sure it may be a struggle at first, but eventually your kids will take part every day in cleaning up the dog’s potty mess, making sure he has food and water, and brushing the dog with a little grooming now and again

Now imagine making it clear to the kids that all of these things that they are doing are making the dog healthy and happy. Take the kids to the veterinarian with you when the dog needs his regular checkups. Explain to your children that your dog is healthy and happy all because of them. Your kids will feel good knowing that they are a part of the entire process of being responsible for the family pet.

How To Help Your Puppy Adjust To Your New Baby

Sarah | November 19th, 2008
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Bringing a new baby into the household that already has a puppy living in it can prove to be a little difficult at times. You need to understand that a puppy who has been in the house for a while views the home as his territory and when you bring home a small child then this toy-like new person can feel like a threat.

There is no best way to prepare for this scenario, however we do have a few suggestions to help your puppy adjust to the new arrival of your baby:

1. Once your new baby comes home, the puppy is going to experience times when he will be ignored. It is just unstoppable and he must get used to it. Your baby will need your full and undivided attention and sometimes your dog may not be able to participate.

In order to start helping your puppy adjust to these times, start by ignoring him at least one full hour every day. This exercise should be practiced a few weeks before the due date of your baby. Be sure that you are in the house doing something simple such as watching TV or folding your clothes, etc.

2. Keep in mind that you’re going to have a lot of baby items laying around the house, especially toys. While you can do your best to keep your home clear of these toys, there are times when your dog may make an attempt to grab them. Therefore, you must try to discourage your puppy from eating the toys.

You can do this by having a few baby toys laying on the floor next to his play items. When he goes and reaches for the baby toys, give him the “no” command and then shift his attention to one of his own toys. One way to make your dog remember the difference in the toys is to mark all the baby’s toys with mouthwash. Soon he will associate the “no” command with the smell and taste of mouthwash and ignore the toys altogether. Needless to say, dogs hate the smell and taste of mouthwash products.

3. You are going to have to allow your puppy to sniff and get used to the baby. However, keep in mind that babies love to tug and pull at everything they see. This may startle your puppy when the baby goes to tug at him. So in order to get your puppy used to this behavior, start by tugging and pulling at your puppy whenever you praise him. For example, give his ears a quick tug when you pet him. Grab at his coat when you go to praise him. And for extra training, perhaps make some baby sounds as you go along. Remember, your goal is to have your puppy desensitized to the new sounds and actions that your baby will display when he or she arrives at the home.

How To Handle A Jealous Puppy When The New Baby Arrives

Sarah | November 17th, 2008
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If you’ve had a puppy for sometime now, then you probably realize just how much he loves being the center of attention.

Unfortunately, when a family suddenly gives birth to a new baby, this may create a problem of jealousy with your puppy. Your dog may display bad behavior such as barking, pawing, as well as destructive tendencies towards household belongings.

To help prepare for this scenario, the following steps will help you avoid potential problems when faced with a jealous puppy and a newborn baby:

1. When you bring home a new baby, you need to have the dog used to having the baby around, so that he does not mistake it for a toy. You can start preparing ahead of time before your baby is born by going through your daily routine with a toy doll.

Take time each day to pretend to change the doll’s diaper as if it were a real baby so that you can practice teaching your dog commands in front of the baby such as sit and stay. Also, place the doll lying down as if you were going to give it a nap each day (like you will have your baby do) and allow your dog to be in the same room, but make sure he obeys you and stays away.

2. Get your puppy used to being around toddlers and children by taking him to a playground or other public area that has children visiting often. Be sure to keep him on a leash, but allow enough room to walk around, at least 6 feet. Kindly let the other children pet your dog slowly so that he can understand that the kids are friendly. This will help to reduce any tension or aggression your puppy might feel when you bring home the baby.

3. If you are making an attempt to socialize your puppy with small children as suggested in step two above, but he is showing aggression, then you should contact a professional who specializes in dog behavior. Some dogs may need a some specialized dog training techniques to relieve this tension that is caused by young toddlers and children.

4. Several weeks before the baby is due, prepare the baby’s room with all of the baby furniture and accessories that will remain in the house, especially the baby’s crib. Allow your puppy to be in and out of the room under your supervision and be sure that he sniffs all of the items that you are bringing into the house for the baby. Watch him closely as he sniffs at the crib. Should the puppy try to paw at the crib then be sure to say “NO!” and teach them to back away and respect your command.

3 Ways To Help Your Puppy Adjust To Your Newborn Baby

Sarah | November 15th, 2008
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Are you having a new baby soon? Congratulations! Bringing a brand new son or daughter into this world is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Your baby is going to make a life-changing addition to your house.

And when you already have a “little one” running around then you need to prepare him for the arrival of the new family member. Yes, the “little one” that I am referring to is your puppy. Many dog owners forget to take the necessary steps needed to help their puppy adjust to having someone else in the house that will get more attention than they are getting. Here are a few ways to help you prepare:

1. The most important thing that you can do is to allow your pup the opportunity to socialize with small children inside your house. While this may not be practical for some people, the idea here is to have small toddlers and children introduced into the house so that your puppy can understand that these little people are friendly and he has no reason to feel defensive or insecure.

Have your friends who have children come over and play with your dog in the house. If your puppy seems a little aggressive at first, a great way to help them adjust is to allow the children to carry dog treats in their hands so that the puppy can associate the treat to a child as being something positive. This will help relieve tension for the dog when your new baby arrives.

2. Dogs thrive on repetitive schedules. Your puppy is the same way. If you have gone through the same routine on a daily basis with your puppy as far as feeding times, exercise times, play times, etc. then you need to realize that the schedule may suddenly change when your new baby is born. This sudden shift in the daily routine can prove to be alarming to your puppy, especially with the addition of a new person in the house that is getting all the attention.

A few weeks before the baby is due, start changing up the daily routine so your puppy can get used to it. Perhaps change around his feeding times. Exercise with your puppy at different times each day. Maybe take a nap unexpectedly in the room in which your baby will be sleeping. Although doing these things may sound strange, you will understand the benefit that it has upon your puppy when your schedule is personally thrown way off guard due to taking care of the responsibilities of a new baby. This will help your puppy to not be so alarmed when you are doing different things each day.

3. Immediately stop any games that you play with your puppy which are on the aggressive side. For example, most dog owners love to play tug-of-war with their dogs, or play-wrestle. There is absolutely nothing wrong with these dog games and you should continue them in the near future. However, it doesn’t take much common sense to understand that your dog may view the new baby as a toy which he wants to play these same aggressive games with. Let’s not have that happen!

Teaching Your Kids On How To Be A Responsible Dog Owner

Janet | November 8th, 2008
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As soon as your new puppy arrives at your home for the very first time, you should get started on the training process immediately. Successful puppy training can be a pleasant and rewarding experience to everyone, so long as you start early and remain consistent week after week, month after month, and yes year after year!

Prepare Ahead Of Time Before Your Puppy’s Arrival

To make the process more effective, everyone in the household should be involved in training the new member of the family, including your kids. Your childs participation with training the puppy will not only give him/her a feeling of pride and value, but it is also a great way for the child to learn about responsibilities and caring for others. In addition, involving your child in training the puppy is the fastest way for the two to build a healthy friendship together, and fast!

Ways To Involve Your Child In Training Your Puppy

Keep in mind that no matter how responsible your child may be, it is not a good idea to give her the full responsibilities of taking care of the new puppy. Even if you had adopted the puppy for her, it is still your responsibility to ensure that your pet is well cared for. However, there are lots of ways for your child to contribute.

Below are some of the things that she can do to participate in caring for your new puppy.

1. Prior to the puppys arrival, your child can help pick out puppy supplies. Before you go to the store to buy the things that your puppy needs, create a checklist at home. Take her to the store and have her read the list and help pick out the supplies. Ask for suggestions on which color or shape to pick. This first step will put her in the mindset of sharing the responsibility of taking care of the new pup.

2. Your child can also help set up the puppys new living area. Have a basket where you can store the pups toys and have your child put the toys in it. She can put the cushion inside the crate and then place the food and water dish in its appropriate area.

3. Last but not the least; your child can help in giving the new puppy lots of love and attention. This, of course, should be done under close supervision of an adult, particularly during the puppys first few days home.

Getting Your Child & New Puppy Off To A Great Start

Gemma | November 5th, 2008
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Nothing is more adorable than seeing a small child and a loving puppy playing happily together. What’s even better to know, is that psychological studies have proven that people who are fortunate enough to grow up with a dog in the family household tend to have happier childhoods.

Kids who grow up with a family dog learn respect for other creatures as well as caring for them. These kids learn empathy, sympathy, handling responsibilities. They also develop self-confidence and self-esteem by knowing they are contributing to taking care of a living creature.

You Must Help

These benefits and learning experiences between children and their pets do not occur automatically. It takes a responsible and patient adult to properly introduce the child to the new puppy and teach him/her how to properly interact with this new member of the family.

At the same time, the puppy needs to learn respect and obey the child the same way as he respects and obeys the other members of the household. This way, every member of the family can have a loving and healthy relationship.

The manner in which you approach your puppy and the experiences that you give him from his very first minute in the house will create a lasting impact throughout his entire life. From the first introduction, your child should learn the proper way to treat the puppy. Your child should realize that the puppy is a baby, and in many ways should be treated like one.

Avoiding Injuries To The Puppy & Your Child

Children around the age of 7 years and younger have the tendency to get excited when faced with new situations and experiences. This excitement may not be ideal when it comes to meeting a new puppy, or a dog of any age for that matter.

Excited behaviors such as making loud noises, chasing after the puppy, pulling at him, and other aggressive behaviors will result in the puppy getting scared.

In this situation, the puppy will more likely run away instead of letting the child pet him. A very young puppy will try to find his mom and hide under her, while a puppy around 12 weeks old will perceive these behaviors as either a threat or an aggressive play and will most likely react by nipping or jumping up.

The proper way of introducing your new pet to your child is through restraint and guidance. Your child should realize that the puppy is a baby and that your child should be gentle when handling him. To better teach your young ones how to be gentle, use a stuffed animal and teach her how to pet it properly. Practice this with your child for a few days before the puppy arrives home.

Children & Dog Training – Make Training Fun, Not A Chore

Gemma | November 2nd, 2008
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To help your children become involved in training the family puppy, make it fun rather than a chore. One way to do this is to turn it into a game.

Gentle, interactive games build the bond, trust and respect that is desirable between child and puppy, says Thomas Morningstar, professional dog trainer and owner of Sunshine Dog Training School in Toronto, Canada.

Thomas provides some Dos and Don’ts for how kids should play with a puppy:

Do:

- Come
- Fetch
- Give

Don’t:

- Jump
- Chase
- Tug-of-War

Most professional dog trainers, like Thomas, will concur that you, as the adult, should teach your puppy the rules of the game first, before involving your kids.

One of the first games every family puppy should learn is give, he says. Your puppy should learn to give objects [a ball, chew toy or your daughter's Barbie] willingly with a simple verbal release cue, such as ‘give’ or ‘drop it.’

The give command, in Mr. Morningstar’s opinion, is best taught through trade-me games, where you offer a toy or treat more desirable to the puppy than the one it is holding. The point is to get the puppy to relinquish its prize happily, he explains.

After your puppy masters this skill, tug-of-war can be considered for older children [12 and older], but the game should still be overseen by an adult or responsible teen who can intervene if either the kids or the pup gets too rough, Thomas advises.

As you well know, puppies are motivated by food, so use this to your advantage! Don’t think of it as bribing, but rather as positive reinforcement (along with lots of verbal praise and cuddles).

Encourage your children to practice the puppy’s sit, come, stay and leave it lessons with treats. Treats should be soft, small and easy to eat, such as bits of cheese or hot dogs. Crunchy biscuits are usually too large and filled with too many calories for the repetitiveness of training.

When teaching sit, hold the food morsel just above the puppy’s nose, then slowly move it backward until the puppy gets into the desired position as you say the cue word (sit). Likewise, to teach the down, draw the treat slowly toward the ground from the sit position; for heel, hold it at your thigh as you walk.

Give your puppy the reward as you praise it (Good boy, Sparky!). Once your puppy starts getting the hang of it, decrease the frequency of treats to, say, every third time it performs the desired action. Food isn’t the only motivator, however. You can also use a favorite toy along with lots and lots of praise. Eventually, with patience and practice on your part, your pup will learn to sit on command.

Helping A Dog To Adjust After Bringing Home A Baby

Samantha | October 31st, 2008
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I was lucky – my Beagle-mix (Chloe) adjusted to our new baby well. In fact, she would scratch at the bedroom door every time my daughter, Sophie, cried – just in case I was able to tune out the walls (not a chance!).

Chloe would also leave my warm bed to lie on the couch with us during those middle-of-the-night feedings.

However, I’m not sure Chloe would have welcomed home baby Sophie with eager licks and wags had I not taken the time during those (long) nine months of pregnancy to prepare her for our expanding family.

Here are some of the same times I used, and ones you can use as well, for helping your puppy adjust to sharing the spotlight:

Create A New Routine

Babies have a tendency to run on their own schedule, especially during the early months when they still have their days and nights mixed up. Veterinarian Karen D. Willinger, V.M.D., PhD., suggests getting your dog on a schedule near what you expect it to be when the baby arrives.

Dr. Willinger goes on to say, for example, because babies fall asleep easily in a stroller, you can plan walks with the dog around the baby’s naptimes, walking the dog while the baby sleeps in the stroller.

Positive Reinforcement Goes A Long Way

Another suggestion from the experts is to help your dog associate the baby with good things. Before the baby arrives, have another family member bring home a blanket from the hospital for your pup to sniff, which will help acclimate it to the smells of the baby (some pleasant and others not so much) that will soon fill the house. Try giving your pup its favorite toy or treat while you bathe, feed or rock the baby.

Meet & Greet

First and foremost, never leave your dog alone with the baby! Supervision is necessary for everyone’s safety not to mention peace of mind because a newborn baby’s jerky muscle reactions can trigger a dog’s prey drive (the instinct to chase and kill animals).

When the introduction day finally arrives, take it slow. Dr. Willinger suggests keeping your dog on a leash at first, allowing it to sniff the baby while you watch for signs of fear or aggression. Signs of aggression include pinned-back ears, growling, snarling, or loud, forceful barking. In contrast, a fearful dog will whimper, tremble or quiver, and tuck its tail between its legs.

With proper preparation and positive reinforcement, both of your babies can learn to happily share the stage. Remember, Dr. Willinger says, puppy and baby interaction is all about what you as the dog owner and new parent are comfortable with.

Buying A Show Quality Dog From A Professional Breeder

Gemma | October 27th, 2008
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Some of you would absolutely love to own a puppy that could aspire to becoming show ring material. If this is the case, it is important to realize that the breeder has no way of knowing how well an 8-week old puppy will turn out as a top-notch show dog.

In fact, no reputable breeder will ever guarantee a tiny puppy as a show dog. If a breeder does make this claim, then be adamant about making your skepticism known.

What the breeder can say, which is perfectly acceptable, is from all appearances at this time, the puppy seems to be of show quality and if no major faults develop, he could be a great show prospect. Then it is up to you to ask what the faults are (major and minor), and keep your eyes open for them.

Breeder Contracts

At times, if a puppy is thought to be pretty outstanding, but the breeder does not want to keep the puppy at the kennel, you may be asked to sign a contract stating that you will show the dog. If the puppy is a female, you may be asked to sign a contract stating that you will allow your new dog to be bred ONLY to a male of the breeder’s choice.

You may also be asked to co-own the puppy along with the professional breeder. This would mean that you are not the sole owner, and that your partner has a say in all matters pertaining to the puppy you take home.

When you set out to purchase your show-quality puppy, remember that no one is forcing you to buy that particular dog. If you do, and the time comes for you to live up to any agreements you have made, it would be completely unfair to have complaints. Contracts and agreements should be well thought out in advance. There are plenty of puppies to be purchased from the same breeder without any contracts involved.

When The Breeder Is Out Of State

The breeder of your choice may live too far way for you to be able to inspect the premises, and the dog you are getting. In such cases, ask for pictures of the puppy, as well as pictures of both parents. This way, you will not be surprised if you have never seen a puppy of that particular breed.

Some new owners can be very shocked when a tiny, skinny, coatless puppy arrives on their doorstep when they were expecting a small replica of an adult dog. The photographs will also give you some idea of the actual size of the puppy will be. If the photographs do not satisfy your curiosity, ask for the height and weight of the parents.

If you plan on having your new puppy shipped to you, try to make sure that he is on a non-stop flight so that you know he will not be waiting at some airport for endless hours, scared half out of his mind. Be at the airport yourself, to pick up your new friend. Chances are, the little guy will be confused and very upset, and he’ll need you at that time, more than ever.