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Positive Dog Parenting

by Rolan Tripp, DVM and Susan Tripp, MS/P

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Be a child and pet advocate always recommend children be supervised with pets!


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Rough treatment is never allowed

Demonstrate to children how to be gentle with dogs. One way is for the adult to control the treats while the child is instructed how to give the dog a gentle massage. 

Teach children to respect pets as a different species including instruction on how to avoid being bitten by a dog. One way to teach children how to avoid being bitten is to practice falling like a tree, acting like a rock. Have children show you how they would roll into a ball, face down with hands covering their necks. Instruct children not to stare or scream. Read more. click here

Never tolerate rough treatment of pets. Help children understand that cartoons with dogs damaged and bouncing back to normal, are not real. Otherwise, children may act out what they see on television harming the dog and risking being harmed by the dog.


Pets are wonderful to hug if they are comfortable and trusting around children. One bad experience can make a dog want to avoid children, even become aggressive around them.

As a rule of thumb, supervise children and dogs. At the parent's discretion, older children who have received good instructions and have proven reliable may be safe alone with the family dog.

The more the child learns how to correctly interact with the dog the better. Involve children in the dog's training so the dog sees the child as king or queen of the kingdom who insists the dog earn everything by following instructions such as sit, down, roll over, shake, etc.

Hide and Seek

One of the best games for children to play with a trained dog is hide-and-seek. The dog must know how to "Sit-Stay" for this game. The child tells the dog to "Sit-Stay" or "Down-Stay" then runs and hides with a piece of food. When he or she hollers, "Come", the dog finds the child and gets the treat. Read here.


etch is a great game. Instruct the child to increase the dog's interest in the ball by first bouncing it (or squeaking a toy) it in front of the dog. Instruct the child to praise the dog for fetching and then throw a second ball or toy until the dog learns to "give" the ball. Use a treat to teach "give" until the dog is reinforced by the enjoyment of the game, Taking the ball away may be perceived by the dog as a punishment for doing the right thing and make the dog stop bringing things back. When the dog brings a toy back, give the dog a back rub and really praise the dog before asking for the object. Show the dog a second object if needed.

Some dogs do not want to bring the ball back. If the dog is at a distance from you playing with the ball, produce the second ball and begin bouncing and having fun with it.

Dogs tend to think whatever YOU have is better than what THEY have. Use the "Come" instruction to encourage the dog to come all the way back with the ball in his or her mouth. At first, the dog may drop the ball. Usually, the dog will learn over time - if praised until the ball drops - to bring the ball all the way back.

Improving Relationships between People and Pets!

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