Saturday, September 3, 2016

Training Your Kids for a Pet Dog

This lesson is from Shared Responsibility University
Training for Pets Course
Lessons 1 & 2

"Please can we get a dog? Please?!!!" Has that ever been voiced in your home?

When your child begs for a dog and you feel like the party-pooper because you know you'll most likely end up taking care of it, try these ideas. When a child promises to take care of the dog, give them a chance to show you. Provide these two simulations to offer responsibility experiences to inform the family decision.

Lesson 1:  
  • 6-8 large or small Tootsie Rolls, unwrapped
  • Brown paper lunch bags 
  • Incentive chart
  • Incentive marker: sticker or marker to write initials or draw a star, etc.
  1. Three times a week, place/hide multiple large or small unwrapped Tootsie Rolls (apologies to Tootsie Roll), depending on the size of the dog you are considering, around your back yard. 
  2. Put lunch bags in an accessible location to the child. The more the child can manage independently, the better for you.
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  3. Show your child how to go outside and gather the Tootsie Rolls in the bag. 
  4. Inform the child that this needs to be done three times a week for one month. 
  5. Only explain this once. Provide no reminders. Remember, you do not want the extra work of dog care to fall on you. Depending on the age of the child, additional instruction or demonstration may be warranted.
  6. Encourage the results you like with verbal specific praise and an incentive chart. See Step 8.
  7. Tell them where to set the bag, so you can check their work and later rescatter the Tootsie Rolls prior to them picking them up the next time. Reuse!
  8. Set up a chart for the child to track weekly what days they collected Tootsie Rolls. For younger children, you can help them place a sticker on the day they accomplished the task to help motivate and remember. This data will be used to assess their readiness for a dog at the end of this course. For printables: 
  9. Discuss their level of enjoyment of this routine at the end of the month.
Lesson 2: 
  • Dog food and water bowls
  • Dog food or dry rice or similar item
  • Incentive chart (can use same one as in Lesson 1.
  1. Buy a dog food bowl and water bowl. Include child in bowl selection, unless that will mislead the child into thinking getting a dog is going to happen or you want to select the cheapest bowls, not the cutest.
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  2. Buy a bag of white rice or real dog food, if you prefer.

  3. Make the rice or dog food bag accessible to the child. 
  4. Show the child how to fill the food bowl with one or two cups of dry rice or dog food and separately fill the water bowl. Some measuring skills are required. Or you can provide a scoop that measures two cups.
  5. Tell the child to fill the food bowl with rice and change the water every morning around 7am and every evening for one month. Go one week at a time. Anticipate improvement as the child adjusts to the demands.
  6. Encourage the results you like with verbal specific praise and an incentive chart. See Step 8 in Lesson 1.
  7. You can pour the rice or dog food back in the bag or jar and the child can reuse it over and over during this simulation.
  8. Discuss their level of enjoyment of this routine at the end of the month.
At the conclusion of these two simulations, have a family meeting to discuss the desire to get a dog. Use the experiences to inform the readiness decision. The child is now ready to have feed a dog and clean up the yard, relying less on you. Since they know a bit more of how much work it is, the desire to have a dog is more informed. 

There is still training and walking responsibilities to be managed. Ask to walk a friends dog together with your child, multiple times if possible. Observe a local dog obedience class and talk to the instructor about time involved practicing at home to raise a well-behaved, well-socialized pet.

A dog can be a wonderful addition to a family. Responsibilities increase with the addition of a dog, especially a puppy. Rescue a dog, if that is right for your situation. Always be prepared on how to care for a dog in a responsible and caring way. Otherwise, just continue to watch movies and read books about dogs. Or volunteer at or donate to a shelter.

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