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Child Proofing Your New Puppy
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Tuesday, March 5, 2024
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY FRAN JEWELL

Kalidor has learned his basic manners. Now, three weeks after I started training him, he has not jumped on anyone since day two.  I will not pet him or give him any reward for jumping up, EVER.

He sits politely to go in or out a door including his crate. He has also stopped running through my legs.  He almost tripped me many times the first three days.  Imagine what would have happened had I allowed that behavior and he weighed 65 pounds!  He would have knocked me over!  I stopped the running between my legs by just gently squeezing my legs together so he couldn’t pass through.

This week we are focusing on child proofing him.  The one thing to remember is that NO PUPPY OR DOG IS EVER CHILD PROOF!!!

Dogs and puppies are living beings and while we can do lots of things to make them understand they must be tolerant and gentle, they are still dogs and make mistakes.

The first part of this is to teach all children to respect dogs and puppies and handle them with care.  I will NEVER leave a puppy and a child together unattended or allow rough play. My rule of thumb is that I am as close to the dog/puppy and child one foot for every year of age the child is. So, if Kalidor is with a 4-year-old, I am never farther away than four feet.

Kalidor is learning that GOOD THINGS come from a hand near his bowl.  I do this by putting an empty bowl down with one kibble in it.  I let him eat that.  Then, I take put a few kibbles in my hand with a closed fist and hold my hand in the bowl.

When Kalidor tries to nibble my hand to get the food, I just keep my hand closed.  When he backs away, especially if he sits, I drop the kibble in the bowl and let him have it.  Many people try to take the food away, then give it back. This can be a recipe for disaster and teaching food aggression.  

We are also working on keeping a DOWN STAY for petting from children.  He needs that skill first BEFORE I introduce children.  If Kalidor has some basic commands, it is very fun for children to give the command and then give him a treat.

Children need to learn to give a puppy a treat with a flat hand, just like feeding a horse.  When children learn how to give commands to a puppy that has skills, it sets them BOTH up for a relationship of respect.  As Kalidor gets older, he can learn parlor tricks so children are interested in interacting with him.

Fran Jewell is a dog behavior consultant living in the Wood River Valley. Questions? Contact her at Positive Puppy Dog Training, LLC, at 208-721-7221.

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