I was in Snellville several weeks ago working with a new Home Dog Training client and his one year old Labradoodle named Doodle.  The session went very well and Doodle was quickly obeying and respecting my client’s commands and wishes.  As we were finishing up, she had one more question.  (I am glad she asked this question, because it is a really important one to understand.) “Sometimes when my kids play with Doodle, he gets a little too adrenalized and crazy.  This sometimes scares my kids.  What can I do to make sure they can have a good time but my kids don’t get scared?

Teach your children and your dog to be respectful and calmly play together

All of us really want our kids to have a great and bonding time with our dog.  That is one of the “great family experiences” that follow us from being kids ourselves to being parents.  The trick that we need to accomplish is to walk the fine line between wonderful crazy things to over-the-top frightening things.  We surely don’t want to completely stifle the play.  We also don’t want to have the kids scared whenever they see the dog.  We have some ideas for you:

  • If your kids are under the age of eight, always have an adult supervising the play activity or any activity between the kids and your family dog.
  • Just don’t “play rough” in the house.  Kids and dogs playing rough in the house is a recipe for disaster and can break a lot of expensive stuff.
  • Keep the dog on a leash when the kids are playing with him.  This allows you to easily separate them when things might get out of hand.
  • Instruct your kids that poking and pulling the dog is not a proper play activity.  This quickly increases the dog’s adrenaline and emulates a “tag, you’re it” environment.  Your dog will respond by possibly nipping and jumping.  This could frighten the kids.
  • No “tug-of-war”.  Your kids’ hands will get too close to your dog’s mouth.  As your dog is “tugging and grabbing”, his mouth might “tug and grab” one of your kid’s hands.
  • Encourage your kids to play games like “chase the ball”.  Get four or five tennis balls and have your kids throw one out for your dog.  As he gets the first ball, toss the second and have your dog chase after the second.  Keep doing this while you are picking up the discarded tennis balls and throw them.
  • Hide toys and goodies around the yard and have your kids encourage to have your dog find them.  They can give him hints, point, etc.  Praise him when he does.
  • Practice obedience commands with your dog.  Have the kids call him to them with the “come” command.  Walk him on a leash in a circle around the yard.  Teach him to sit.

Tell your kids that if they ever feel afraid while playing with your family dog, stop what they are doing immediately and slowly stand up.  Stand still for about 30 seconds.  You can tell them that you want them to play like they are pretending to be a statue.  After that, slowly back up until they are away from your dog. Always remain facing the dog.

As dog owners and dog trainers, we can’t imagine a world without dogs in our lives.  Having a wonderful and bonding experience with our dogs when we were kids started it all.  Please call us at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help.  We are blessed to have been your local dog training experts for over fifteen years.  We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.