Making dog training a family affair – Part 2
Making dog training a family affair is a fun and rewarding experience for everyone. To start, you must commit to declaring the rules that will govern your dog’s behavior, and let everyone know that these rules must be followed by everyone – because family-wide consistency is essential to achieve good results from training.
Establishing the rules
Make sure everyone knows and follows the same rules with your dog, or your best-laid training plans will unravel. If one person allows the dog to jump on them or play rough games, for example, your dog will try these behaviors with other people. And when your family isn’t consistent about keeping the rules, don’t expect your dog to either!
The best time to establish rules is before you bring your puppy or adult dog home. That way, everyone can be consistent right from the start. Chances are pretty good, however, that if you’re reading this article now, you probably already have your dog at home with you. So the best thing to do is to start right away – establish your “good dog rules” today, make sure the whole family knows what they are, and have everyone agree to follow them, starting immediately.
Family meeting time
Call the whole family together to create a list of the important rules regarding the dog. Encourage each person, including the children, to offer ideas and describe how they’d like the dog to behave so everyone will feel included.
Discuss reasons for each rule you decide to implement so its importance is understood. Big rules – such as not feeding from the table or the types of play that will be allowed – must be the same for everyone.
Write down your list of agreed-upon rules and let the children illustrate the page by drawing pictures of your dog being good. The more personal involvement each family member has with the list of dog rules, the more likely everyone will be to abide by them. When your list is finished and illustrated, post it in a central location, such as the refrigerator, so no one forgets the rules (or pretends to).
I cannot stress enough just how important it is for your children (and everyone else in the house) to all have the same mindset and understanding of how you want your dog handled during training. In the next article we will discuss how to teach the rules, how to initiate training games, and how to keep training consistent – all of which will fail if you do not set the entire family on the same path.