I had a wonderful experience this week. I had the opportunity to be present when a client of mine ( a very responsible young teenager) picked up her first dog. I was so excited to see the joy on her face when the breeder handed her the pup. I could just tell things were going to go smoothly.
As a trainer I see lots of kids with dogs, but most of the time the pup is acquired in a backwards manner. All too often parents think that getting a dog will “teach” their kids responsibility. Unfortunately, I’ve personally never seen this pan out. Very shortly the dog will be the total responsibility of the parents which probably don’t have the time to tend and exercise a young puppy properly. However, there is an encouraging trend I’ve notices lately with my clients.
Over the past few months, I’ve noticed a distinct shift with the kids I work with. Parents have been requiring the children to do significant amounts or research on the various breeds of puppy they are interested in. These parents have gone one step further and frequently asked the kids to prepare “reports” on the different breeds and to analyze their characteristics to see how they might fit in with the family lifestyle. One of my clients that was 8 years old prepared 9 different reports over the course of several months to prep her parents for the upcoming puppy decision. In every case, this has worked phenomenally well and each of the children that was required to perform pre-puppy research has proven to be an excellent dog owner and young trainer.
So, the long and the short of this is that if you think a dog is going to make your child more responsible, think again. If they are really interested in having a dog they’ll be willing to do some research on different breeds and tell you which would be the best dog fit for you family. Just to get them started, here is very good starting point:
American Kennel Club: http:www.akc.org
Just remember though. When you make a great match between kid and dog there is nothing like the smile on both their faces when they first meet. It’s a wonderful moment!
Austin Dog Trainer
Fidelio Dog Works