How to Start the Great Relationship Between Your Dog and Your Child

I have a three year old son and a six month Golden Retriever.  I know that they really like each other, but how can I start to build their relationship so that my son will be a life-long dog lover?  Some of my adult friends are scared of dogs.  They tell me that it is because of some incident that happened when they were young and they can never get over it.  I just want to do what is right...

It is almost a universal law that little boys and puppies love each other.  They are both full of energy, want to play & explore, and have a natural trust of almost everybody and everything.  We need to take these qualities and create an environment where your young son and your little puppy, Wolfie, can build a bond of friendship, respect, and rules.

Before I go any further, I want to be crystal clear that you can never leave your young son and Wolfie alone.  You must always be in control of the situation no matter how well you think they are getting along.  Just one quick mistake can critically damage the relationship and put a fear of dogs with your son.

There are multiple training steps that you will need to accomplish to build your son's bond with Wolfie.  We would like to discuss one socialization and obedience technique that is great for both your son and Wolfie.  All we want to accomplish is to have a little "walkies" with your son and Wolfie.  This doesn't have to be a perfect march where Wolfie is buy his side.  Think of it as more of a "stroll around the yard".

First, you must do your homework to make sure that Wolfie is socialized with the leash.  This means that he doesn't go crazy every time he sees the leash.  He can't grab it in his mouth and run away with the leash.  You must be able to click the leash on him, drop the leash, and Wolfie will not pay attention to the leash whatsoever. 

Next, you must be sure that Wolfie can understand what a "walkies" is all about.  You must work with him so that he calmly walks by your side when you are the person walking him.  Walk him past any distractions you have in the back yard that might make him bolt or jump.  Make sure that he doesn't constantly have his nose to the ground looking for things or is constantly stopping and digging.  He must be well behaved for you before you pass him off to your young son.

Now we are ready.  First of all, make sure that Wolfie has his collar properly fitted around his neck so that he can not slip out of it.  Next, click a 20 foot training lead to Wolfie's collar.  (This is going to be for you and will assure that proper safety precautions are in place.)  

Have someone bring your son up to Wolfie.  Have him calmly pet Wolfie until they are both calm and focused on each other   Have someone hand your son a 3 - 4 foot leash and have him click it on Wolfie's collar.  (The reason that I suggest a shorter leash is to minimize it dragging on the ground and getting Wolfie's feet and body tangled in it.)  Help your son, if needed.  Make sure that your son actually clicks it on himself.  This helps to build your son's sense of accomplishment and allows Wolfie to see who is taking charge. Give them a minute or two to continue petting and acclimating to the situation.

It is now time to have your young son walk Wolfie.  Remember, this is more of a stroll than a walk.  All we want them to do is to calmly walk around the yard while your son is guiding.

Ask your son to begin walking and to give Wolfie a little tug to show him where to go.  You will also be right there with the training lead, helping with the tug and providing guidance to Wolfie, as needed.

Ask your son to go wherever he wants.  Remind him to guide Wolfie with him and to always pay attention to Wolfie.  In the background, you are using your training lead to keep Wolfie next to your son and to correct/enhance his guidance with Wolfie.

Be very aware of any areas where Wolfie might want to run and go after something (duck landing in the lake, squirrel in the tree, bikes in the road).  Ask your son to stop and have Wolfie sit.  You can assist in this command and should also put Wolfie on a short leash in case he wants to go after that distraction.

Give your son massive encouragement and praise for being such a great dog owner.  Ask him to pet Wolfie often and to say "Good Doggie".  Do not give Wolfie treats during the walkies because this might create an inappropriate distraction and too much excitement from Wolfie.

Spend up to 20 minutes a day performing this little exercise.  Do it when Wolfie is in a "quieter moment".  Make a big deal about it during the day with your son so that he sees it as a great "play date".

As I said, this is just one exercise you can perform to build up the lasting bond between your child and dog.  We all have that wonderful, mental picture of the little boy with his fishing poll and his dog, walking down a dirt road to their favorite fishing spot.  This is what we are trying to accomplish here. For more information, please contact us at The Best Dog Trainers in South Florida.


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