Canine Behavior Consultant shares tips for balancing life with kids and dog
Guest Michelle Stern shares tips for balancing life with kids and dog
- Set up safe-zones in the house for either your dog or your young kids by using a series of exercise pens, baby gates, or play yard panels. By using pens to contain your dog, they can be safely “stored” and yet still be near the family at the same time, preventing loneliness.
- While the dog is safely contained, give him something fun to do. Use frozen Kongs (http://poochparenting.
net/how-to-fill-a-kong-dogs/ – effective June 1) or food dispensing toys. Most dogs couldn’t be happier than when they are eating – and especially when they get to use their brain at the same time. These types of toys keep the mind busy and provide an immediate reward, which is a win-win! Safety tip: make sure that the kids let the dog eat in peace. Some dogs don’t want company while they are eating.
- Play with bubbles! Dogs who like to chase often love to jump up and bite at bubbles. Just make sure little bodies and faces don’t get in the way.
- Play doggie ping-pong. This is a simple game that requires two or more people, both armed with a pocketful of treats. Start on opposite sides of the same room. One person calls the dog and gives him a treat when he arrives. Then, the other person calls the dog and also rewards him with a treat. Slowly, move farther apart, eventually with the people being in different rooms or areas of the house. Reward the dog with a treat and lots of praise every time he comes when called. This builds the bond between the players and the dog and is also excellent practice for coming when called.
- Build an obstacle course in the house. Start simple, asking the dog to step over the broom handle on the floor. Eventually, you can set up a complex layout using chairs, pool noodles, tables, hula hoops and more. You can even create a tunnel by draping a sheet over some furniture. This game is great fun for both kids and dogs. If the dog starts to get too excited, it’s a great idea to take a break.
- Take a dog training class with the whole family over summer vacation! There is nothing like better manners, all around!
- If you are unhappy with the dog digging up your yard or chewing your irrigation system, set up a covered pen or play area in a part of the yard where he can’t do any damage…or at least where you can limit it. Make sure he has water at all times.
- If you have a dog who LOVES to dig, consider giving him digging-approved zone, such as a kiddie pool filled with sand. You can bury dog treats or special toys in this zone, giving the dog lots of incentive to dig here, and not somewhere less desirable.
- Dogs are REALLY GOOD at sniffing. Take advantage of this by sprinkling a portion of his breakfast or dinner on the lawn and let him find all of the kibbles. This might take as long as 30 minutes, and their brain will need a rest when they are done!