Teaching your children to walk dogs safely can be a joy for you the parent, the dog and the children themselves. The interaction between animal and handler can be enjoyed while enjoying the outdoors. A level of respect and responsibility should be handed down to promote safety from stationary and moving obstacles and so your children’s walk can be as stress free as it should be. Teaching your children to walk dogs safely, indeed, teaches them responsibility skills which will hold them in good stead for the future.
Teaching them how to do it safely and responsibly requires just a bit of strategic thinking. There are some simple guidelines you need to set up from day one, but in general the onus is on you as their parent. Here are some tips on how you can teach your children to walk dogs safely and responsibly.
Set up Some Ground Rules Before Children Start Walking Dogs
Just about everywhere, in public its a legal requirement to walk your dog with a leash except from some public parks. Your children may be eager to start walking dogs from the moment they learn to walk on a leash, but there are some essential ground rules you should set up before you start. Teach your children how to put a leash on your dog so when they’re walking they can quickly re-attach the leash in the event other dogs come close or a busy road is nearby.
Start off with short walks
Your kids need to get used to the idea that walking a dog isn’t a game; it’s a pleasure, yet, serious responsibility walking a dog. Start off with short walks that are as uneventful as possible, in quiet locations. Make sure your kids are paying attention to their surroundings and are aware of any hazards. Dogs are clever pets and most love to be trained so it can be a great way of relieving their boredom.
Teach Your Child to Treat the Dog
Rewarding a dog with treats such as cheese or small pieces of meat is a great way of gaining a dog’s obedience. This helps the dog enjoy training lessons more, too. Lots of praise is also a good way to gain your dog’s trust.
Let your children help with feeding and walking times. Early on, your kids can help you make sure the dogs are eating and drinking the right amount. They can also help you keep track of their other needs. Make obedience training a part of your family activities. Teaching your kids to walk the dog on a leash, to command ‘sit, stay, and walk’ on a regular basis will help build a level of respect between child and dog.
Leash training is an important part of responsible dog ownership. Having your dog on a leash reduces their roaming radius and prevents them from running away or getting into other trouble. It also helps you keep your pup safe in public places and prevents them from annoying other people or animals by approaching them too closely.
Walking without pulling and yanking the leash unnecessarily is an important consideration. Start off with just one dog. It’s important for your kids to learn to walk only one dog at a time. Otherwise, they don’t get a clear picture of how to walk any specific dog.
Ask your children not to overwhelm the dog with too many commands in a short space of time. Let the dog get used to one command at a time without hurrying it. Like humans we all learn at different speeds.
Dog Walking Equipment
It may be better to use a leash which will give your child more control; read the American Kennel club’s take on that here. A child will benefit from the tighter control over the dog when using a harness though more strength is needed which will suit bigger children. Collars, require less strength from the handler which will suit smaller children. Nowadays, collars have handy ‘no pull’ rings which help stop the dog from pulling hard and dragging their walker.
Please check with local laws with regards to wearing muzzles. You may want to fit a muzzle regardless of the law if the pet is snappy around children and other dogs. Again teaching the child how to properly fix the muzzle in place and take it off are important considerations to prepare for busy neighborhoods and quieter places (if the law allows).
Avoid Livestock and Places Where Grazing Animals Live
Its important to teach children that dogs should not be taken off their leash anywhere near cows, grazing animals or any type of livestock. A large dog could cause serious damage to chickens, or even sheep and calves. If you don’t have confidence a child can stop a dog on a leash from escaping to chase other animals its best to wait until the child is bigger.
Leash Training Puppies
The first step in leash training with a new puppy is to find the right length leash for them. About 4 feet is a good length. Leash length is important because it determines the distance between you and your puppy, and also the maximum reach that they can have with their leash.
A short leash is better for puppies as long leashes can cause them to pot-roast, which is when their legs dangle below them causing them to trip over or have their leash wrapped around their legs. A long leash, on the other hand, is better for bigger dogs.
If your puppy has done something wrong, like if they continue to chew on their leash, then you need to correct them right away and not let it go unnoticed. If you want your puppy to love their leash, you need to make sure that you’re not only correcting them for bad behavior, but praising them for good behavior and giving them treats every now and then for extra good behavior.
Use a Leash Hook or Belt Buckle Leash
A lot of people prefer to use a belt buckle leash when they are leashing up their puppies. A belt buckle leash is an excellent choice, provided that you use a leash hook to secure the leash to your puppy’s collar. A leash hook is a small clip that attaches to your puppy’s collar and holds the loose end of the leash.
This way, you can use a belt buckle leash with your puppy, but still be able to take them out for walks without having to worry about them chewing through the leash or the buckle coming loose.
We have already talked about positive reinforcement and rewarding your puppy for good behavior, but there might come a time when your puppy might try to test your children’s patience. This is an important thing to remember, and you need to tell them to be ready for it.
When your puppy is first starting out with leash training, they might be a bit stubborn and want to try and resist the leash. If this is the case, don’t try to force them to walk with the leash since that might only make them more stubborn.
Instead, tell your child to try to get them interested in something else, and then try to put the leash back on them again. Most puppies have short attention spans, so if you keep trying and keep things interesting for them, they will eventually give in and accept the leash. Persuade your child to be persistent and don’t give up, and your puppy will become leash trained soon enough.
In Conclusion – How to Teach Your Children To Walk Dogs Safely
Teaching your children to walk dogs safely is a life lesson with benefits for dog and child alike. The old axiom enjoyment with responsibility could not be truer of being able to safely take your dog for a walk. A safe walk with a dog will allow your them to exercise in the outdoors. It will teach children responsibility and empathy towards animals.
Training is not a one-time process that only needs to be done once. It is a continuous process that may even take a few months or years, depending on the dog and how much they are willing to cooperate. Always, encourage children to enjoy dog training and then the dog will enjoy it too.
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