Should My Kids Train Wolfie?

We got a dog and I want to make sure that my kids are involved in his training!  First, I don't want him to be my sole responsibility, but I also want to teach my kids responsibility...

We get this question (request) a lot and the answer really depends on the dynamics of the family and the current issues with the dog.  Let's just walk through some scenarios that we have experienced and we will explain what needs to be done.

The kids don't want anything to do with Wolfie:
The first thing that we would do would be to get your kids involved with Wolfie around the house.  

  • Ask them to take Wolfie's bowl to him at feeding time.  
  • Have Wolfie and your kids together with you as you are giving him s treat.  Show your kids how to do that and then ask them to try it too.  
  • You can also ask them to "babysit" Woolfie while you are making dinner or on the computer.  You are still in sight of them, but you have given them a chore that involves passive interaction with him.

After they are OK with him, start involving them with come simple commands like COME and SIT.  You do the exercises first and then you invite them to join in.  You are always there to encourage them and guide them when they aren't getting the exercise done correctly.  Never let them become angry or hit Wolfie.

As your kids see that Wolfie "will do what they want", it will give them a feeling of accomplishment.  Now, start to move on to other commands like STAY and WALK.  Again, this is all taken slowly and always in an atmosphere of having fun.

Wolfie seems to be a little aggressive and nips at the kids:
Usually we see a dog nipping and automatically label them as "aggressive".  Although we always suggest contacting a professional dog trainer for specific advise, this situation is normally caused by Wolfie demanding attention.

The first thing you have to do is to establish your dominance over Wolfie so that he gives you the respect and focus you require.  Have Wolfie on a leash around your kids.  As soon as he approaches them and begins to nip, correct him and direct him back to you.  You will very quickly notice the proactive signs of Wolfie wanting to nip (get attention) your kids.  Correct him ahead of time.  Wolfie will quickly learn that he can't perform that behavior.

Now, ask your kids to call Wolfie over to them in a calm manner.  Have them pet him and give him treats.  As you see that Wolfie is no longer the one demanding attention and your kids are no longer threatened by Wolfie's nipping, you can start with some simple COME and SIT obedience commands.

My kids are small and Wolfie is twice their size:
I don't want the kids training Wolfie in this instance.  They can play with him under controlled visits with you always present.  Under no circumstance do you leave them alone.

The reason that I am so adamant in this situation is that I don't want Wolfie knocking them over.  It isn't that I think that Wolfie is mean or would want to hurt your kids, but they are kids and dogs.  Bumping and falling happens.  When they are small, this could scare them and make them afraid of dogs the rest of their lives.

The bottom line whenever you want your kids involved with your dog is to have them properly socialized first.  Any of the cases that we have discussed above first involves proper socialization so that a level of respect is built between your kids and Wolfie.

As I mentioned above, if you have any concern regarding your kids' interaction with your dog, call a professional dog trainer.  You can reach us at


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