Use Caution With Kids Walking Dogs
We are looking for a tool to help us with training our standard poodle to walk nicely. She is over 6 months old, and we just got her a few weeks ago. Before we got her, I don’t think she was taken for walks often, and she has now started constantly pulling. I want our children to be able to walk her as well (they’re 11, 8 and 7). She has a lovely personality, but that one aspect is very frustrating as the kids get pulled through puddles, etc.
My question mostly relates to the ability of children to learn to use the Wade Collar safely. Are there risks of injury to the dog? Of course I realize they need to be gentle (which they are), but just generally wondering about the risk when using a training collar.
I’ve yet to see the piece of dog training equipment that someone, somewhere couldn’t find a way to misuse, however that said, I think children in the age range you describe would have to work fairly hard to hurt a dog wearing the collar I designed.
Never the less, I still wouldn’t recommend putting the leash in their hands at this point.
Ideally the main reason for a training collar of any kind shouldn’t be to provide long-term physical “control” over a dog by the handler whether they be a child or an adult. The goal is to be able to use the physical leverage the Wade Collar provides as an opportunity to teach the dog to learn to exert self-control which means the dog understands and wants to keep the leash loose when asked to “Heel”. In the end the collar should be no more than an “emergency break.”
For the actual training period, I usually keep the kids out of it until the adults have things on a roll. Even then, as a rule of thumb I don’t make anyone responsible for a dog during the training period of its life unless I think they’d be comfortable and capable of supervising a 2 year old child for 72 hours.
While kids usually retain the information given better then adults, they can’t stop being kids, which impacts their attention span with the dog at home let alone when out and about. They can get caught off guard and safety issues for all involved aside, in training, consistency is too important to leave to that sort handling.
I would still involve the children but it wouldn’t be until mom and dad could get the dog to reliably perform. That means before I would be comfortable handing the leash over to my kids I would have already really proofed the dog around things like squirrels, other dogs etc.
Even then, I’d want to be sure that the dog could keep the leash loose while the kids walked the dog around the house and in the back yard for at least 3 minutes, and then I would test the dog’s responsiveness to around distractions as well. (A tip for you is to use two leashes for quite a while. One for the child and the other so mom or dad can step in if need be.)
The Wade Collar is a great tool but it’s just a tool and shouldn’t replace harnessing the best dog training tool of all – the dog’s brain and that involves training technique.
You can learn more about the Wade Collar at www.wadecollars.com and training technique at http://store.askthedogguy.com/the-beautiful-balance-dog-training-with-natures/
– John Wade