One of our new clients in Acworth has a three year old son and a six month Golden Retriever.  He told me that they really like each other, but wonders how he can start to build their relationship so that his son will be a life-long dog lover?  Some of my client’s adult friends are scared of dogs.  They have told him that it is because of some incident that happened when they were young and they can never get over it.  My client wants guidance just want to do what is right…

It is a clear fact that little boys and puppies love each other.  They are both full of energy, want to play and run, and trust just about everything and everyone.  We need to take these qualities and create an environment where my client’s young son and his little puppy can build a bond of friendship, respect, and rules.

Before I go any further, I want to unequivocally state that you can never leave small kids and dogs alone.  You must always be in control of the situation no matter how well you think they are getting along.  Just one quick mistake can can create lasting scars; both mentally and physically.

With that said, let’s continue with my client, his son, and their puppy…

The most important thing that my client needs to accomplish is to have his son and his puppy mutually respect the other and to understand that respectful focus is needed to create their bond of lasting friendship.  The easiest way to do this is through a simple exercise of “walkies”.  This doesn’t have to be long or around the block.  It simply has to happen where both his son and puppy provide mutual focus and respect between each other.

First, my client needs to be sure that the puppy understand what a “walkies” is all about.  My client must work with the puppy so that he calmly walks by his side.  My client needs to walk the puppy past any distractions he may have in the back yard that might make the puppy bolt or jump.  My client must make sure that the puppy doesn’t constantly have his nose to the ground looking for things or is constantly stopping and digging.  He must be well behaved for him before he will pass the puppy off to his young son..

Once the puppy is walking well, they are ready to continue.  First of all, he needs to make sure that the puppy has his collar properly fitted around his neck so that he can not slip out of it. Next, he should  snap a 20 foot training lead to the puppy’s collar.  (The 20 foot training lead is for his use in the event anything starts to to wrong.)  

Have one of the family members bring the young son up to the puppy.  Ask him to gently pet the puppy until they are both calm and focused on each other   Have someone hand your son a 3 – 4 foot leash and have him click it on the puppy’s collar.  (The reason that I suggest a shorter leash is to minimize it’s dragging on the ground and getting the puppy’s feet and body all caught up.) Have someone help with the “leash clicking”, if needed. My client should try to make sure that his son actually clicks it on himself.  This helps to build his son’s sense of accomplishment and allows the puppy to see who is taking charge. Give them a minute or two to continue petting and acclimating to the situation.

It is now time to have my client’s son walk the puppy.  Remember, this is more of a wandering stroll than a walk.  All we want them to do is to calmly walk around the yard while your son is guiding.

My client now asks his son to start walking and to give the puppy a little tug to show him where to go.  Remember that my client will also be right there with the training lead, helping with the tug and providing “hidden” direction, as needed.

My client should allow his son to walk where ever he wants to go.  Remind him to guide the puppy with him and to always pay attention to what the puppy is doing.  In the background, my client is using his training lead to keep the puppy next to his son and to correct/enhance his son’s direction and leadership with the puppy.

My client should always remain very aware of any areas where the puppy might want to run and go after something.  Every once in a while he should ask his son to stop and ask the puppy to sit.  He may help with this command and help show his son how to get the puppy to sit.

My client should always be giving his son a lot of encouragement and praise for being such a great dog owner.  Have him to pet the puppy often and to say “Good Doggie”.  We do not suggest giving the puppy treats during the walkies because this might create an inappropriate distraction and too much excitement from the puppy.

I suggest that my client spends up to twenty minutes a day working on the come/sit with his son and puppy.  He should do it when the puppy is in a “quieter moment”. 

As I earlier mentioned, this is only one exercise that my client can perform to build up the lasting bond between his child and their puppy.  We all remember that idealistic image of the little boy; fishing poll in hand  and his dog by his side, walking down a dirt road to their favorite fishing spot.  This is what we are trying to accomplish here. 

Please call Robin or me at (770) 718-7704 if you need any dog training help.  We are blessed to have been your local dog training experts for over fourteen years.  We have trained over 5,000 great dogs and loving families and are ready to help you.