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How to help your children learn about your new rescue dog

Over the past few weeks, I have had many people work with me who have recently taken on a new rescue dog. They are looking for some dog training advice and help to make sure these dogs feel settled in their new home. Many of these were street dogs and so are unused to being handled. How do we help them? These are special dogs and will one day become ideal family pets, but it takes a long time and a lot of work by all the members of the family. Now if you have young children, how do we get them involved and keep them safe too? ( I realise that GADAH are not allowing young children to be exposed, but these ideas could be useful to transfer to Grandparents who want their grandchildren to learn or teachers who can help their students understand) One way I have suggested, is to get the children their own dog! No, not a real one but a toy! Then the young children can be involved and copy what you are doing with your new dog. It teaches them and involves them but keeps them safe. For example: If you have a crate for your new dog - highly recommended by the way, then get a box for the toy! Find a blanket, a plastic dish for some food - dry biscuits are fine. I use a cut out of foil as pretend water! A lead and collar - well a ribbon will do, just be age appropriate! Use a big button for name tag - you get the idea?

Now when you are teaching your new dog to sit, they can practice with their dog. They can learn about how to handle a dog. How to approach them. How not to touch when they are eating! How to brush them, put them to bed and leave them to sleep. Can you see how you can use the toy dog, to help you teach the children? And keep them all safe! Obviously older children will be able to learn with you and providing they are fully supervised, and your new dog has settled, they can teach your dog some of these things. But many of my clients have very young children and that worries me. Not that I think children and dogs shouldn’t happen, but if we take on an unknown dog and lack the experience then problems can occur for all involved. With older children, we can get them involved with the find it game, and even the start of scentwork. Here are some links to the perfect games to play with your new dog.

You can see how you can use the teaching of scentwork to get the children to play with your dog in a structured way. – they set the food out and then watch the dog find it. This should all be fully supervised and at a level that the child can understand.

Older children can play hide and seek with your dog’s toy and let them find it. Hide it in an easy place to begin with and then make it harder. Make sure at this time, that the dog always wins. Training is for another day – remember this is all about helping kids and dogs to get along.

Here is our lovely friend Badger, who not only helped his owner, he also helped so many children by listening to them read – dogs do really help children in many ways, a worried child will open up to a dog, when they may not do to a teacher, so I hope that these few ideas may help children develop the special relationship on offer.


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