Turn Your Kids Into Dog Trainers With Three Great Games!

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Turn Your Kids Into Dog Trainers With Three Great Games!

January 23, 2016

Written by: Ash Stevens

The everyday family has enough to do between work, house, and managing children. Throw a dog into the mix and training is sure to end up on the backburner. But while we may be short on time, we have little helpers that can take on such tasks. Kids are perfect candidates for dog training. Not only can they make anything fun, but they’re loaded with enthusiasm and always looking to unleash some energy and inspiration. Thanks to the creative training games around these days, the dog leash can be put in their hands. Get your kids and dogs to partner up by giving these great exercises a try!

Kids walking the dog

Photo by Barney Moss

Red Light, Green Light

This fun training lesson is great because it can be incorporated into that daily walk. It’s also very simple. The green light, or “go,” involves moving forward while the red right light, or “stop” means getting the dog to sit. At first, dogs are told to sit at the end of each street –or whatever determined stopping point — and rewarded for each successful sit. As their skills progress and they catch on that stopping means sit, the treats come when they sit on cue rather than by command. And while walks offer a great opportunity for kids to sneak in training with some time outside, it’s also a game that can be played at home. The backyard will also allow for fun challenges and variations like points or racing. These little twists will not only make this game worthy of a group of kids, but it will also encourage your dog to up their skills by incorporating running or leashless commands.   

Dogs benefit from this game because they learn non-verbal cues and develop an awareness of what’s happening at the other end of the leash. As they develop, they can be encouraged to transfer this awareness to time spent off-leash. At the same time, kids are offered an opportunity to develop and implement schedule and routine with regular training walks.  After a few weeks, walking will be a regular part of the day with little to no nagging required. They’ll even get to work on awareness and patience while they’re at it.    

dog stuck in fence

Photo by Nisa Yeh

Hide & Seek

If you need a good training drill for a rainy day, then consider the doggie version of Hide & Seek. The early weeks will involve you or a larger child holding your dog in “sit” position while the hiding happens. While another child is off hiding themselves or their dog’s favorite toy, your dog gets to practice the art of “stay.” Once the hider is “ready or not” you can give your dog the cue to go seek. It’s as simple as it is fun and educational. And just like with Red Light, Green Light, you can challenge pup skills by including canine twists on Hide & Seek while adding another level of fun for everyone.

The benefits of Hide & Seek lie in teaching dogs to learn to listen and to hold a “stay.” It can also help them develop their skills with listening and awareness while they’re more excitable. The kiddo advantages in this training game come in making clear communication with the dog. Whether kids are helping the dog sit or they’re doing the hiding, they’ll need to make it obvious when it’s time to “stay” or “go.”  They’ll also get to work on keeping their focus while having ridiculous loads of fun and laughing hysterically.

Go Wild And Freeze

This exercise is very much a game, and it’s a great way for those kids and dogs to shake out some energy. To play, all you need to do is get up and start dancing and moving around. Once your pooch gets in on the action, keep your groove going for another minute or two. Come to a sudden stop and then tell your dog to either sit or lay down. Once they obey the command, get back to going wild. Continue on like this by alternating a minute or two of excited movement with a sudden stop. You can keep playing until you’re ready to call it quits or bring it to a close before high-energy pups become especially excited. Just signal that the game has come to an end with an “all done” or “no more,” and take a minute to wind down by getting them to sit while you love on them.   

This game is great for dogs because they learn to listen and perform commands quickly. It also challenges their ability to pay attention while they’re excited and easily distracted. For kids, they get to work on their awareness of their pup’s behavior. They really need to pay attention to how their dog looks and acts so that they’re getting him to sit or lay down before he gets too excited. Incorporate a clock or timer and you can even tie it into school by helping them understand the concept of time. Awareness and personal responsibility will also be developed as kids will be in charge of ensuring that the dog isn’t jumping on people or knocking things over.

hugging a dog

Photo by Debbie L.

Now that you have training games to play, take a moment to consider how they can be best fitted with your dog. There are factors that influence dog training like breed, age, gender, and overall behavior, so you’ll want to adjust games according to your dog’s needs. You have the opportunity to keep training more casual and relaxed, and you also have the option of making it more specific by incorporating methods like operant conditioning or clicker training. Whatever route you and your family take on though, the biggest factor driving success will always be consistency. As parents, we know this applies to children just as well as dogs. So guide children into developing regular and reliable training methods that will have both dogs and kids building habits that rocket important everyday skills. And don’t forget to get in on the fun too!

Bio: Ash Stevens is a mother, writer, and a wannabe shaman. She loves health, gardening, simplicity, culture, chocolate, and sarcasm. If she isn’t writing or talking family and relationships on her blog, then she’s surely playing badminton with the kids. Find her on Twitter or Facebook and make a new friend!

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