These are the most common words in our house lately. As you may have figured, we just got a 6 month old puppy (we got her from a local rescue agency)! And boy is our house lively these days. It seems as if every member of our family is fighting for her attention. We do a good job of keeping her busy- we run with her, we walk with her, and we play games with her in the back yard. As they say, a tired puppy is a good puppy. And boy does she sleep well at night.
Not everything is fool proof though. The newest member of our family has found her way to shoes, socks, and even our wood deck. We sometimes find pieces of them in shreds in the most unlikely places. For now, we have been managing our new family dynamics by making changes in our environment (all shoes have to be put behind closed doors if they are not on our feet). Our goal, however, is to train our puppy so that she can be fully integrated into our lives without the risk of extreme property damage.
And, of course every one wants to be part of the puppy training, even our five year old. I think our puppy has a hard time taking her seriously. After all, they see each other eye to eye. Literally. At times my 5 year old will snuggle with her or play with her. And at other times she will very sternly (at least from her point of view) give her the sit command. Our puppy looks questioningly at me and then back at her as if to ask “Do I have to? Really?”. Clearly our puppy struggles with their relationship. “Is she my companion or my leader?”, she is likely asking.
As a conscientious pet owner and parent might do, I begin to search for answers. What is the best way to integrate our new puppy into our family? Can the children take an active role in socializing our puppy? The first step is puppy kindergarten. So I enroll in a local dog obedience class that meets for six weeks. I even take the kids. As it turns out this was one of the best things I did so far. We learned so many skills for working with our puppy. And the everyone in our family has the information so we are all doing the same thing.
Additionally, I found a great book titled Don’t shoot the Dog: The New Art of Teaching and Training by Karen Pryor. It is full of helpful ideas and tips that work for dog training and beyond. I even used some of the techniques on my kids (more on that in a later blog). A also found more practical tips on trainyourpuppy.com. This site has many useful tips about children and puppies such as:
- Children should use calm, quiet vocal intonation with the puppy
- Use a gentle hand, lead or collar when handling the puppy
- Do not disturb a sleeping puppy
- Children should not tease a puppy
- Do not leave children’s toys of any danger to a puppy in the presence of a puppy
So if you are considering (or already have) introducing a furry, four legged, bundle of joy into your home check out the resources listed above and get ready for endless hours of furry fun!