Teaching Your Kids How to Walk the Dog
If you’ve got both a dog and a child then you probably know a thing or two about responsibility. You’ve got at least two other lives depending on you and that’s great. Some of the biggest joys in the world is raising kids and taking care of animals.
But besides all of that joy, it also offers you an opportunity. You have the chance here to transfer some of those skills in responsibility that you’ve been honing for yourself, onto your children and teach them some valuable stuff for the future.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, children and dogs can get very close and your child will probably gravitate towards wanting to take care of their pet. If you want to try and teach them how to do so, they will be more receptive and willing to participate.
There are several ways you can teach your child to take care of a dog. Feeding and grooming are useful things, but a great way to get them involved is by teaching your kids how to walk the dog. This is a big job and a big responsibility for a child, but it’s a beneficial one.
There are some important things to consider about this so let’s take a look at a few:
Some people who have truly mastered the art of dog-walking may not use any equipment at all, not even a leash. I’m not sure if that’s legal in most places but it does happen. In the case of your children, though, they should use a leash.
It might be better if you get a harness that’s specifically designed for dog-walking. The harness allows for a bit more control, which will make it easier for someone of smaller stature to not lose control of the animal.
Depending on where you are, there might be other pieces of equipment that are necessary too. It’s the law in certain places for particular breeds to have to wear muzzles while they’re out in public; this tends to apply especially to the larger breeds.
You should try to teach your kids very early on about why the leash and the muzzle are important and also teach them how to put them on and remove them from the dog. The preparation is an important part of the process so don’t leave it out of the training.
Size of the Dog
If your dog is trained correctly, and you have impressed the right technique and behavior on your child, then the size of the dog shouldn’t matter all that much. Children can walk even the largest of dogs; it will just take a bit more practice.
It needs to be clear to the dog who’s in charge. Train the dog to recognize that while they’re being walked, no matter who has the leash in hand, they are to surrender control to the walker.
Teach the dog not to pull on the leash, try to control direction, or refuse to walk. If a dog the size of a German Shepherd or a Siberian Husky does this, then your child could be in real trouble. You can do this by using treats, adjusting the collar or most effectively, with verbal commands.
Teach the dog a series of verbal commands that correspond with slowing down, speeding up or stopping, and then teach them to your child too. This will allow your dog to get used to following orders from the child, making them more receptive during walking.
Verbal commands are essential for larger dogs. An unruly large breed is dangerous for even an adult walker, but for a child, it’s even worse. It is entirely manageable, however, if both dog and child are prepared.
Practice Walking the Dog
That familiar adage ‘practice makes perfect’ is a cliche at this stage but it never stops being true. And it applies to walking a dog just as much as any other important skill you might want to teach someone.
The only way for your child to truly master this and to develop that level of responsibility that comes with taking care of a dog is to practice, practice, and practice some more. I would advise doing this in a safe area first, even if this just means walking around in your backyard for a while. Your dog won’t get bored with that, and they’ll love spending time with their human companions.
After practicing in the yard, move onto somewhere that’s a bit more public, like the streets around your neighborhood or a quiet park nearby. Ease them into this process and gradually get them used to unexpected things. Teach them about scooping up the dog’s droppings as well as the possibility of the dog getting excited by small animals or birds, and how to regain control of them if that happens.
Perhaps try and attract some of these animals to your backyard. The dog can get used to them and it won’t be too much of a problem if they happen to see them while out walking as they will be familiar creatures.
There’s a lot of things that can happen while you’re out walking your dog and the best way to prepare your child for this is to let them practice enough so that they come across these potential issues themselves.
The skills a child will pick up from walking a dog will be invaluable. It prepares them for some of the responsibilities they can expect as they get older if you familiarize them with how to do it.
“Teaching Your Kids How to Walk the Dog”
Guest Writer: Julie Woodworth, GardenersPath.com
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