A Dog Trainer For Kids – Phoenix Scottsdale AZ Dog Training – Dog Trainer – Behaviorist
PHOENIX , AZ AREA: (602) 708-4531
OR, if you are out of this area, inquire about a telephone or e-Lesson
Email: [email protected]
I’ve often been a dog trainer for kids.
Years ago, I was hired by a family that had purchased two female Golden Retriever puppies for their two daughters. One girl was about 10, and she was extremely smart and motivated. The other girl was about 7, and she was very soft spoken, but also smart and motivated. Everything went well. Let me tell you how I did it:
I have a program for such situations.
Parents Must Participate And Assume The Risks To The Child And Dog: First thing is that a parent must always be present when I work with a child.
Parents know their children better than I do, and they also need to see how their child interacts with the dog. Parents can then assist the training program, both in the lessons and in the home. Every child is different, and each has a different learning style. And every dog will be a bit different with a child, depending upon the child’s gender, age, and temperament. The younger the child, the less likely the dog is going to obey. The younger the child, the more protective the dog will be when around strangers, and in some cases, the dog is going to be too aggressive for the child to manage the dog alone in public. You must also recognize and accept that children are more easily injured when working with a dog. That is a risk I can’t prevent. Dogs are, pound for pound, stronger and faster, than any child. Children won’t make the kinds of quality decisions an adult would, and you need to be around to provide the back up in case they make errors, or omit to do what should have been done. Dogs, even when well trained, won’t obey or be mannerly at times. Dogs can bite, jump, or knock down a child. A dog can drag a child into traffic, or off a cliff, for example. Dogs can be aggressive sometimes, such as guarding toys and food and certain locations, or getting in fights with other dogs, for example. Kids need to wear good footwear, and durable clothing when working with a dog. This risk of injury or accident has to be borne by you, the parent. And dogs can get loose from, or be injured by children. The risks to the dog are higher when working with children, and this is also a risk you need to fully assume. Other people, animals and property are more likely to be damaged, injured or even killed when a dog is being managed by a child. Children are less likely to follow my instructions, or to exercise good judgment, and that is also a risk you need to take on. That is also a risk you need to accept and fully assume. And children can’t be expected to know or practice the laws, or rules and regulations, of dog ownership, so you also need to take these risks, too. The law is most likely going to hold you responsible, not your child. If you can’t take on all these kinds of risks, then don’t enroll your child in the lessons.
I have a Two Adult Rule: I follow the same principles that many daycare operators use. Children (under 18 years of age) must always be attended by at least 2 adults, and at least one of those must be a parent. An older sibling won’t suffice. A grandparent is OK, however. No wise or responsible business person does otherwise when working with children. I have a Two Adult Rule. So, if I arrive, and the parents haven’t yet arrived, I will wait outside until they are present before the lesson begins so the parents are present to supervise.
Adults First, Then Children: When I work with a dog, I first train with the dogs and the parents. I have a lot of information to cover, and the parents are ultimately going to be the backup when the lessons are over. Parents can then help their children incorporate the lessons into the home, and ensure that their children are doing things right. I remember another Golden Retriever, a male, that was purchased for a couple’s son. The dog trained beautifully, and the son could make that dog do anything. Even so, I occasionally received a follow up question after the lessons from the parents, inquiring about to deal with training and obedience situations. It was a family project, and I made sure the whole family supported the child’s desire to have that dog.
When Trained, Then Incorporate The Children: When I have the dog working well for the parents, then we bring in the kids to do the lessons. Up to that point, the kids can watch the lessons, and some of the care and training can be done in the home with the parent’s supervision, but the full transfer of the training is accomplished after the dog is obedient to the parents. From there, I have developed methods to get big dogs to obey small kids. A trained dog isn’t necessarily going to obey a child just because the child gives a command. The child needs to develop a training relationship with the dog, and I have to help them learn the proper skills, from giving commands appropriately, giving treats, giving corrections, petting, and so forth. And we have to get the dog to adapt to now listening to his or her playmate, who is now also going to be the dog’s Master. The parents need to see this transition so that they can help it along in the home. The other thing I consider is making the lessons age appropriate. An 8 year old child is going to get different responses out of a dog than a 15 year old teenager.
At What Age? It is important for the family to consider when it is appropriate to get a dog for a child. The younger the child, the less the parents can expect of the child. With older teenagers, the mature ones can be expected to work with the dog as if they were an adult. I think it is a mistake to get a dog for a child under 8 years of age, if you expect that child to be doing the tasks of being that dog’s Master. I also think it is a huge mistake to ever get a protection breed for a child.
Get The Right Dog: Some breeds and some individual dogs are not going to be good with children, and should not be adopted or purchased. You need to start out with a Toy breed, or with a breed that is known to be very sociable, friendly, and trainable such as a well bred (meaning, you’ve done your homework and picked a breeder that has produced dogs that have obtained high level obedience titles, a dog that is calm in the home even as a puppy, and yet has the motivation to learn and please its Master… all this can be verified with references and research).
If you have a child, and you are looking for an experienced dog trainer, I have that kind of experience and I know what to do. I would counsel you to discuss all of this with me before you get a dog, if at all possible. That way, I can meet with the family, meet your child, go over your ideas regarding expectations, and help you with getting the right dog. It all can work, but it does need a bit of forethought.
Sam Basso is a professional dog trainer and behaviorist, in the Phoenix/ Scottsdale metropolitan area. He’s known for being fun, kind, intelligent, and humane. Sam Basso has a unique personal touch. He has appeared on his own TV show, been a guest radio expert, gives seminars, publishes a dog related blog, does rescue volunteering, and is active in promoting animal welfare and fair dog laws.
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