Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Please Keep Your Paws To Yourself

Keeping 'four on the floor' is no small task when surrounded by all this cuteness.  Learning to greet and interact calmly with people, especially children, does not come easily to all dogs.  Here's how you can help.

Commit To Training
From the day a puppy or dog joins our family we work on 'polite greetings' and boundaries.  This means, paws on the floor, no jumping on people, a little personal space please, keep your paws to yourself..............well you get the idea.  There's no need to use punishment for jumping up, no need for shaker cans of pennies, spray bottles, muzzle flicks, none of that nasty stuff.  To tame the wild beast, simply stop paying attention and wait for them to offer a more polite behavior before interacting with them.   Use time-outs  and settling exercises to help calm an overly excited pup.   Most puppies and even untrained adult dogs are prone to jumping up and on people, especially if the humans are on the ground.  Quite often we encourage goofy behavior by inviting rowdy play especially by participating in wrestling or chasing games.  What seems like innocent fun in the beginning, is not funny when someone gets hurt.

Have Realistic Expectations
Does your puppy/dog know that jumping on you hurts?  Do they understand that knocking you down could break a bone?  Do they understand that even if kids are running and screaming 'come get me', they should not be participating?  The answer is no, they don't.   Dogs will gladly participate in activities you encourage so pick them wisely.   If you encourage or allow wild, out of control behavior, that's what you'll get.  If you expect your dog to instinctively know how to behave, you'll most likely be very disappointed and frustrated.  It's our job to help our dogs be successful in the 'human' world.  We tend to have expectations that far exceed their understanding or abilities.

Play For Keeps
Don't stop having fun with your dog just because they're a little rowdy. If your 'wild child' is ever going to learn to 'play nice', you have to take the time to teach them.   There are great games you can play with your dog that are fun ,teach impulse control and  encourage appropriate interaction with people.   A fun game of 'Musical Mats' or the 'Statue Game' are always fun for kids and dogs.   A great resource is the book,  Play-Together-Stay-Together by Patricia McConnell.


Raising a puppy or dog with small children is not necessarily about picking the 'right breed' of dog, it's about understanding how kids and dogs can safely live and play together.  Family Paws offers great online resources for families, follow the link below to their website.


The best approach is to be proactive, don't wait for problems to arise, start training the day your puppy or dog arrives.

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