Down Time Activities
In this section, we are going to give you some ideas on how you can implement calm interactions between your child and puppy. Some of these will demonstrate the use of management systems for puppies that have a hard time settling when kids are doing floor activities.
For this activity, the puppy is behind an ex-pen with a food toy while the child is on the other side coloring. You could use a baby gate, crate, or tether (as long as the child doesn’t bother the puppy and vice versa). The goal is to teach the puppy to ignore the child on the floor and focus on their own activity.
For this activity, the adult can be the one reading or the child can be the one reading. If you opt to have your puppy uncontained while they join you I suggest that the adult is between the puppy and the child and occasionally treat the puppy for holding their down position. The puppy could also be chewing on a bully stick or similar chew or working on a stuffed food toy.
Out for a Walk
Getting out for a group walk can be extremely beneficial for both puppies and kids. The mistake I see most often is that parents allow the child to hold the leash. This can be dangerous as most puppies and dogs can easily overpower a child if they suddenly decide they need to chase that squirrel or say hi to that other dog. Kids can easily become frustrated if the puppy is pulling a lot or stopping to sniff and their response is often to yank the leash which doesn’t help our puppy learn proper leash skills. So, what can we do? I developed a co-piloting system that allows the child to learn how to walk the puppy while the adult is also attached and present. The goal is to have two leashes attached to the puppy, one for the adult that is slightly longer and the other for the child. This two leash system allows the adult to apply emergency breaks as needed or take over completely without having to pass over the leash. Show your child how to use their voice to coax puppy along. In this video, Jersey was doing an excellent job at being a distracted dog and Avery was learning how to use her voice, rather than her strength, to get Jersey going.