So you let the kids talk you into getting them a new dog, it was all fine and dandy until you realized that their dog was really starting to become more of your dog. Perhaps you wanted a family dog but have realized that you’re the only family member taking care of said dog. Maybe you no longer have time to dedicate to the training or care of the dog. Whatever your reason may be, you’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to get the kids to step up to the plate and help with the new furry bundle of joy (and endless energy).
Start by teaching your kids how to properly reward a dog for his good choices. Be certain your kids understand that while rewarding the dog is important, it’s important not to over do it. Limit the number of treats per trick as this not only fattens up Fido, but also lowers the effectiveness of rewards. It can also lead to more begging and higher expectations from the dog for performing a trick.
If possible, teach your kids to reward your dog with praise. Not only will this help with his weight, but it’s been discovered that most dogs prefer petting and praises to food rewards and will form a more positive association with completing a task. As with treats, make sure the kids aren’t giving the dog too much praise. Too many “good dogs” (especially when the dog is doing nothing or laying around) can make him believe it’s just a common phrase and not react as strongly to it.
Tell your kids not to quit when they are training the dog as the dog will not remember his training when no one is there to constantly remind him of what he’s supposed to be doing. Training never ends and is a very important responsibility that your kids must understand not only for the dog’s benefit but for their own as well.
It is crucial to be consistent in your training of the dog. Many kids, especially young children, may not understand this and require your supervision. If rewards, tone of voice and commands are not consistent throughout his training, the dog may become confused or discouraged which may lead to frustration from your children.
Hold a family meeting and decide on what words your family should use when training the dog, what tricks he should be taught, what call said tricks, and so on. This way, both the dog and your kids will know what to expect.
Many children, especially young ones and those on the autism spectrum, may have issues with keeping a calm and consistent tone which can confuse or overwhelm the dog. Make sure your children understand the difference between tones and use the training of the dog as a way of training your child’s tone so that they may become more familiar with the differences between happy, angry, or stern tones.
Teach your kids to take turns cleaning up after the dog. While this is not nearly as fun as training the dog, it still needs to be done and it’s not fair if one person cleans up after the dog all the time (especially if you’re that person). Set a schedule for who takes care of cleaning the yard each day. For example, Susan cleans the yard on odd numbered days (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) while Stephen cleans the yard on even number days (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday). On Sunday, you can have kids alternate who does it every week (let Susan clean it the first and third week of the month and let Stephen clean it the other two weeks).
For inside accidents, tell your children to inform you immediately of the spot and have them watch you clean it so that they can understand how it’s done. If your kids are old or responsible enough, place cleaning products and supplies where they can be easily accessed and let the kids do it themselves. You may need to hang around the first few times to make sure they understand how to use the products.
You should now have a basic idea on how to get the kids to help in the care of your beloved family pet. As your children get older, give them more responsibility over the dog. But expect to train your children as well as your dog and handle a majority of the “hard stuff” until your kids are old or mature enough to do it on their own.