A Fun Game of Fetch in 8 Easy Steps

Teaching your dog to fetch in 8 easy steps

Training your dog to play the game of fetch and to retrieve a ball or toy is as fun as it sounds and can be done in 8 easy steps. Many people tell me that their dog will not do this and I am here to give you the successful tips that I have used for many years to teach dogs and their humans how to play.

To begin, start indoors in a room with no distractions.  Be prepared with dog kibble or treats – a Dixie cup size works.  Also, have two or three of your dog’s favorite toys or balls.  To teach the game and create the desire to play, you don’t have to use balls to start. Attach a leash to your dog’s collar and just let them drag it on the floor.

  1. Start by sitting down on the floor and use a toy to get your dog’s interest – I usually pretend the toy or ball is moving around as if it were a little animal.
  2. As soon as your dog looks over with interest, roll or toss the toy a few feet away.  You have to toss or roll it before they can grab it with their mouth.  Usually your dog will go to grab the toy as it’s moving.
  3. As soon as they pick up or touch the toy -PRAISE them!  Atta boy!  Great job!  Remember this is all baby steps at first.
  4. If that is all they do, no worries, you grab a different toy and repeat the above process.  Be excited about the toys.
  5. If they did  pick up the toy you tossed, more praise and hopefully, your excitement will usually draw them back to you!
  6. DO NOT TRY TO TAKE THE TOY AWAY FROM THEM IF THEY BRING IT BACK. Just praise and say, Good job!  Maybe pet their chest and compliment them on their toy!
  7. Show them the treat and try to trade the toy for the treat. As soon as they take the treat, they will drop the toy, now quickly through the toy back.  This is KEY! They have to see you don’t just keep their toy and you always give it back.
  8. If they are not coming back initially, you use the leash to guide them back and reward with the treat.

To finish the first session, you need to end the game before the dog decides to end the game.  This harder for the humans as everyone gets excited when they see success and they want to keep going.  Only do about 3-5 tosses at first and then stop playing.  This will make your dog all the more interested and engaged the next time you play.  Stay with playing this indoor initially until your dog gets great about bringing the toy to you and starts to drop it immediately.  This is when you can fade from using the treat!

I love this for kids because kids usually want to play with their dog, but don’t always know the best ways to play.  First, teach your dog and then it will be easy to hand the reins to your child. This also is a great bonding activity to do for the family and the dog.

If you’d like to see this in action, I have several sessions that I have posted on my Kids-n-K9s Facebook page!  http://<iframe src=”https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fkidsnk9s%2Fvideos%2F337510970624561%2F&show_text=0&width=560″ width=”560″ height=”315″ style=”border:none;overflow:hidden” scrolling=”no” frameborder=”0″ allowTransparency=”true” allowFullScreen=”true”></iframe>

Shelter-in-Place – Preventing Incidents with the Family Dog

advice during shelter in place for the family dog
During this time of shelter-in-place, you’re spending a lot more time together as a family.  Most of the extra time together is good, but there may be some negative consequences as new routines are being established.  Recently I was informed of an incident involving a family dog biting a five year old child who crawled into the dog crate while the dog was sleeping.  After hearing this, I thought it would be a good time to talk about how some of these new daily routines could impact your child and dog.  Let’s  help educate your child about making good decisions with the family dog, and avoid potentially bad incidents like a bite.
 
Children who are normally gone for many hours of the day, expending energy at school, are now spending their days at home.  The routine for the dog is probably different too. They may not have as much time to rest as usual, and there is constant sound and movement in the house from family members.  Some dogs may love the extra family around, but others may not.  
 
All this extra togetherness just increases the likelihood of a potential incident happening. Supervision is always important when it comes to dogs and kids, but realistically you just can’t watch everything all the time. So what else can you do?  Try taking some time to establish clear boundaries and rules with your children regarding your dog(s).  Looking back on the incident with the young child mentioned earlier, it’s likely that the dog was startled while asleep and reacted. It could also be that the dog was protecting its space.  It’s difficult to prevent all bad things from happening, but this is a good time to be proactive with basic child/dog safety tips. 
 
If your child is old enough to have a conversation, go over some basic tips to help your child learn when to give space and undisturbed rest time to the dog. Space should always be given when a dog is eating and sleeping. Don’t assume your child knows all of the basics. If you need a simple child/dog safety tool that covers many of the basic tips, the Stop, Look & Paws sticker set, that was designed for parents to use with children, can be a big help.  It’s also something fun for your child, because they get to sort 12 reusable dog stickers into safe-to-pet or not-safe-to-pet sections on a game board.
 
So, take some time to sit with your child and review basic safety tips with the family dog.  If you need some help, you can read some of the Kids-n-K9s.com blogs and/or get a Stop, Look & Paws sticker set.  Enjoy the extra family time and be safe!

Kids-n-K9s Helps Provide Humane Education

humane education, north bay animal services

Humane Education is an important part of animal shelters.  Our local shelter was in need of a program to bring more humane education to the 4 cities that they cover for services.  The cities include Petaluma, Healdsburg, Cloverdate and Calistoga, all in California.

Stop, Look & Paws setsIn January 2020, North Bay Animal Services, Petaluma’s local animal shelter,  became aware of the current word that Kids-n-K9s was doing in Petaluma and asked to be a sponsor for the kids-n-k9s dog safety campaign that originally began in 2017.  This is very crucial because as of December 2019, even with the help of local businesses, I only had half of the schools sponsored for the children to receive Stop, Look & Paws sets free of charge. As I have mentioned,  It is very important that in addition to my visits to the classrooms, the children get the learning activity to take home to their parents to play and learn together.  If parents don’t have the same safety information to support the decisions that their children make when interacting with dogs, children will continue to get bitten.

North Bay Animal Services believe in the dog safety program so much that they have decided to be my sole sponsor for providing the Stop, Look & Paws sets for part of their Humane Education services starting in the 2020/21 school year.  They also covered the remaining schools for this year so all of the schools in Petaluma that have requested this program will now be receiving Stop, Look & Paws sets.

However, if it wasn’t for local Petaluma businesses funding the program for the last two years this campaign would have never survived.   I want to give a big thank to the local businesses who sponsored half of all the Petaluma kindergarten classes for 2019/20 school year.   Thank you to:

Bertotti Landscape,  Xandex,  Petaluma Veterinary Hospital,  Petaluma Kids Dental,  Lakeville Eye Care,  Rip City Riders, Dr. Frasersmith DDS,  Brixx Pizzeria,  The Glass Shop of North Bay,  Hollingsworth Jeweler. 

2020 Family Choice Award

As one of the most coveted and family-friendly consumer awards programs in the nation, the Family Choice Awards recognizes the finest products and services that enrich the lifestyles of children and families. http://www.familychoiceawards.com/family-choice-awards-winners/stop-look-paws/  A distinguished panel of judges voted Stop, Look & Paws based on physical appearance, quality, ease of instructions, entertainment value and engagement, durability, uniqueness, value for the price and if this would be something to recommend.

I felt very honored to receive this award as Stop, Look & Paws took years to design and produce.  I hope it continues to help many families years into the future.

Family Choice Award, Stop, Look & Paws

3 Sniffer Dog Games to Play With Your Family Dog

sniffer dog games to play with your child and your family dog

Dogs love to play games just like kids. As someone who instructs adults how to play sniffer dog games, or nose work games, with their dogs, I wanted to give you some fun games that children could play.

Not only are these games fun, but this can also help to build a bond between your child and their dog.

Before you start, pick a command like “find it”, “search” or “seek”. Once you have a word, always use that same command for your dog.

Be sure to keep the games fun by always ending play after a successful search.  I would recommend not searching more than three different times. You always want to end the game before your dog gets tired of playing. This way he will be eager to play again the next time.

While you play with your dog they will be getting a lot of treats.  Be sure the pieces are very small, like pieces of dog kibble. You can use your dog’s food if you want.

Here is your first game…

sniffer dog games to play with your dog and child

 

“Which Hand?” Game

  1. Sit in front of your dog.
  2. Put a treat in one hand and show it to your dog. Then enclose it in your fist.
  3. Keeping your hand about 12 inches apart, show both closed hands to your dog.
  4. Give your dog the search command.
  5. If he sniffs the correct hand, open your hand and give the treat and lots of praise.
  6. If he gets it wrong, show him the correct hand, but DO NOT give him the treat. Just try again.
  7. Repeat the game, but switch hands.
  8. Remember: always give the treat and LOTS of praise when your dog is correct!

Game no. 2:            

sniffer dog games to play with your child and your family dog

“Under the Cup Search”

  1. Put 3 cups or containers upside down in front of your dog.
  2. Show your dog to treat and then hide it under one of the cups. The first time, let your dog see which cup you hide it under.
  3. Give your dog the search command.
  4. Your dog should go immediately to the correct cup and either push it or knock it over to get the treat.
  5. If your dog is correct, given the treat and lots of praise.
  6. If your dog is not correct, lift the container and let him see the treat, but don’t let him get it. Give the search command again.
  7. After your dog successfully found the treat a couple of times, start hiding it without your dog seeing which cup it under.

Game 3:                          

sniffer dog games to play with your family dog and your child

“Room Search”

  1. Show your dog a treat.
  2. Either have your dog “sit/stay” or have someone hold her while you hide the treat in plain sight. Let your dog see where you put it so she will be successful.
  3. Return to your dog to give your search command.
  4. Your dog should run to the treat. When she finds it give lots of praise.
  5. After several successful easy hides, try making it harder. You could place the treat under a magazine, under the edge of a cushion or pillow, under the corner of a rug — somewhere the dog can get to the treat, but not see it.
  6. If your dog finds it, she gets the treat and lots of praise. If your dog is struggling, either she doesn’t understand, or you’ve hidden the treat too well! Since we always want the dog to be successful and love playing this game, you can go back to hiding the treat in plain sight and work up to harder hides. You can even try hiding it in a separate room from where she is waiting.

I hope you have fun playing these games with your child and your dog!

Can My Child Be In Charge of The Family Dog?

It usually goes something like this… ”Mom, can we get a dog, PLEASE!”. Mom’s reply, “Well, if we get a dog you’ll need to take care of the dog; this means walking, feeding, picking up the poop, blah, blah, blah.” The reality is that if mom is truly thinking that the child will learn responsibility and be able to be the caretaker of the family dog, she most likely will end up being frustrated and disappointed, not to mention there can be issues of safety to consider.

Besides Mom’s disappointment your child will end up feeling frustrated too because dogs generally don’t listen to kids.

Dogs follow leaders and will gravitate to the most reliable, consistent person in the family who provides what they need in life to be happy and safe.

Children, since they are still developing, can be more emotional, unpredictable, unreliable and energetic. These qualities communicate to the dog that the child is not in charge, and therefore, the dog generally will not listen to the child.

So now that we know that children usually can not be successful at being “in charge” of the dog, can we still help our child to learn to be a responsible dog owner and help care for the family dog? Absolutely!

Here are a few suggestions to help parents encourage good and safe interactions, helping create a lasting bond between your child and family dog.

Include your child whenever you can with daily care, but you must lay the ground work first. Every task that pertains to your dog, such as daily feeding, providing fresh water, walking, grooming, and basic training, needs to be done first by an adult to understand how you want your child to help, and if they can assist with these daily tasks. You also need to learn about your dog’s personality to find out how they will respond to new things. An example might be that some dogs are overly excited to be fed and may jump into the air knocking the food bowl out of a child’s hands.  In this case, you’d first train the dog to keep all four feet on the floor when feeding before having your child take over. 

It’s great to have children help with care, but be sure to demonstrate how you want things done. Furthermore, if you want to get them to be less reliant on you telling them when something needs to be done, set up a dog task chart and have your child indicate when the job is accomplished. Obviously, you still need to supervise when and if a task is completed so the dog doesn’t pay the penalty of lack of care.

Be sure to create situations where your child and dog can have fun together. Even though the dog may not see the child as a leader, your dog will be more likely to respond positively to your child if he sees that good things happen when the child is around! Playing fetch, hide and seek, searching games for kibble, are all great ways to bond, and also get the child and dog to learn mutual respect while having fun. Even something as simple as having your child read to the dog can be a quiet time activity for both.

Supervise all interactions, especially with young children. As a parent, you need to give immediate feedback to your child when you see your dog does not want to interact, and may be trying to move away from the situation. Likewise, if the dog is getting too excited or overly stimulated, you need to intervene to deescalate the situation. Even if everyone is playing and having fun, supervise, because things can go wrong in a heart beat! It’s important to understand that if a dog doesn’t see the child as a leader, and wants to communicate that it doesn’t like something your child is doing, the dog may feel it has the “right” to give a correction. This correction may be in the form of a bark, nip or bite. This is because dogs see everyone in a hierarchy, and children are not usually at the top.

Hire a Professional. A professional dog trainer will not only help you with training, but also can advise you on some fun ways that your dog and child can play and interact with basic training techniques.

Even though most children can’t be a reliable leader or primary caretaker for the dog, they can still help and begin to learn the responsibilities of caring for the family dog.

I first published this article in the Pediatric Safety site on April 30, 2018

 

Family Dog Magazine Recognizes Stop, Look & Paws

In American Kennel Clubs (AKC), Family Dog Magazine has a Kids Issue which comes out annually every November/December.  AKC heard about Kids-n-K9s and that we are now a non profit organization trying to help reduce the number of dog bites to children.  Stop, Look & Paws was recognized as a valuable tool for adults and children to learn together about dog body language.  Click the link  to view the entire magazine about dogs and kids.  Enjoy!

http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/48793267#/48793267/6

Teaching Your Dog Hide and Seek!

Playing hide and seek with your dog and child

Why play hide and seek with your dog? 

– It’s a great way to teach a dog to come to his name

– It’s a fun way for children to interact with their dog

Playing this with your dog and child is fun for all.  Initially, you will need to guide and participate, but after a couple of times playing, your child may be able to do this without your help.

This is an indoor game to start.  You may be able to play outside once your dog knows the game.

You will need:

  • Kibble or small dog treats (slightly larger than a pea)
  • 4-6 ft. leash and collar or harness on your dog
  • Your child wearing clothing with pockets to carry treats

To start:

 Step one:  Prime the dog!

Hold the leash loosely at the handle, say your dog’s name and “come!”, in a happy voice and as soon as your dog looks at you or takes a step towards you, give a piece of kibble and say, “Good dog!” Now have your child copy you and practice calling your dog.  Its important to give immediate positive feedback to your dog when they respond to the person calling their name.  Have your child practice giving the treat on the palm of their hand. Repeat this 4-6 times. If your child is uncomfortable about handing the treat to their dog, they can drop kibble on the floor. The most important thing is to do it as soon as the dog looks to you.

Step 2: Playing the game:

Parent holds leash initially to keep the dog from following the child.

Child hides, (this can be behind a door(keep the door up and have the child step behind), in an open closet, under a table, beside a bed, etc.) somewhere that the dog has access to reach the child.

Have the child shout “ready” followed by “(dog’s name), come!” 

Hopefully your dog will immediately start to go to your child’s voice. If not, you are holding the leash so if the dog doesn’t understand this first time, you can guide until it finds the child, but the dog should lead the way after he understands the game.  Every few seconds, have child repeat the call to help the dog locate the sound.

As soon as the dog finds the child they should immediately praise (“Good dog!”) as they give the dog the treat!

Repeat in a new area.  Play this no more than 4- 6 times as you want both the dog and the child to stay excited to play!  You don’t want the dog to get burned out on being called.  If you teach the command “wait” your child can use this to have the dog wait to be called each turn.

Repeat the next day and you’ll soon have a dog who likes to come when called and a happy child.

Have fun!   By  Lesley Zoromski

Do I Want My Dog to be Protective of My Child?

do I want a protection dog for my child?

Sometimes people think that having a dog to protect their family, and specifically their child, is a good idea.  There are draw backs that you should be aware of before pursuing this type of dog or encouraging a dog to take this on this role for the family. Being a companion for a family is a sort of “second career” for dogs compared to what they may have been originally bred to do – herding, hunting, etc.   Some breeds have had an easier time switching from working dog to companion animal.  Other breeds may look for more work to fill their time!

 If you don’t give your dog something to do (long walks, training, ball retrieving, swimming, chew toys) they will often come up with their own job.  All they may need is a little encouragement to jump into a role, such as “protector”, but it may be challenging to control how serious they take this new position.  The consequences can be detrimental to both the family members and the dog.  For instance, if the dog decides that a growl or bark is not effective to remove or control an individual, they may go straight for the bite.  Consequences for the owner of the dog can be serious, ranging from medical bills to pay to being sued.  For the dog, consequences may be even more serious, as biting incidents can result in a dog being euthanized.

Dogs can naturally come by their “jobs” in the family by chance or when given some intended or unintended direction.  An example is when a dog alerts you by barking when someone comes to the door or walks past your house.  This is a very innate behavior for most dogs. 

Sometimes people start their dog on a new behavior by accident.  For example, let’s say you have a new tiny puppy and one day it growls and barks at someone.  Everyone giggles and laughs because it looks so cute seeing this adorable puppy acting so tough.  

Your unintended response of positive feedback communicates to the puppy that he did a great job.  The consequence might be that as the dog matures, he won’t let people come near anyone in the family.  It happens!  A few examples of this can be when family or friends come to the house for a visit or celebration, such as for a birthday party or holiday, and the dog can not determine whether or not some of these individuals are friend or foe.  I’ve known dog owners who could not leave their children with a friendly babysitter in the house without fear of a bite or nip to the sitter from the dog.  Of course the dog is just trying to be protective and do their job.  Even other children are not exempt from suspicion and can be subject to “corrections” from the dog.  Dog owners can become hostage to their own dog and find themselves having to manage their situations by removing the dog to other rooms, crates or kennels, hoping nothing goes wrong when someone visits the home.

Further, if we see a questionable or negative behavior from our dog and don’t disallow it or give guidance, the dog will likely believe it’s an approved behavior. People often hope bad behaviors will just go away, but usually they don’t.   In the case of allowing a dog to growl or exhibit some other display of protection towards a stranger who is approaching your child, you may think, “I like this!”   However, when given the green light, dogs may have trouble discriminating between good and bad situations.  

If you have given them the role to protect your child, whether intended or not, they will have to make decisions on their own.  Unfortunately, they may not make good choices.  For instance, an old lady with a walker or cane can look as menacing to a dog as an intruder with a weapon.  Even after a dog is familiar with specific family or friends, each occasion can be a unique for the dog.  For example, Uncle Bob, who the dog knows, comes for a visit with a new baseball bat and glove for his nephew or niece.  In this case the dog may see the baseball bat as suspicious, and therefore jumps in to defend the family biting Uncle Bob in the process.  Now Uncle Bob doesn’t want to visit unless the dog is contained.  You may start to find that other people become reluctant to visit as well.  And, now the dog will likely be put in another room or crated every time anyone visits.  This will likely make the dog see all visitors as negative, and perpetuate the defensiveness of the dog.

My advice is, don’t go out of your way to encourage your dog to act protectively.   If your dog has started this naturally, be sure you do some training with your dog so you can communicate effectively with them to help them understand their role when interacting with people.  If you’re unable to provide this leadership with your dog, it’s important that you seek assistance from an experienced trainer who can help you. 

Pediatric Safety is a site that is dedicated to helping parents with information to make safe and informed decisions when it comes to their children.  I have written several articles and this article was the latest.  To see more about this website go to this link.

https://www.pediatricsafety.net/2018/06/do-i-want-my-dog-to-be-protective-of-my-child/

 

2017/18 – 500 Children Received Stop, Look & Paws Child/Dog Safety Activity Sets Thanks to Local Supporters!

In 2017 I expanded my campaign to reach more children with dog safety tools and activities.  Starting in my hometown of Petaluma, I approached local elementary schools to gauge their interest in improving dog safety education for their students.  My goal was to provide a free copy of Stop, Look & Paws child/dog safety activity to each student in Kindergarten.  As I had hoped, schools were very interested, and now I needed to fund this campaign.  So, I contacted local veterinarians and businesses as well as a few private citizens to ask for their help in covering costs of the Stop, Look & Paws activity sets. Once they became aware of the startling dog bite statistics here in the US (roughly 5 million dog bites every year, with over half to children), many generously offered financial support for the campaign!

Generous Supporters

Tony Salazar

So then it came down to execution of the campaign at schools and with children. Typically, teachers would set up times with me to volunteer in their classroom, presenting and playing learning games with their students to be safer around dogs. This was very fun for me and it was fortunate that I was local, and able to visit each classroom. Then, at the end of each session, the teacher would distribute Stop, Look & Paws learning activities to each child, who would take it home at the end of the day. It’s important that each child have their own activity set, so they have an easy, fun way to reinforce how to be safe around dogs at home, and get support from their parents. As a small thank you to all of the generous supporters and to reinforce the importance of dog safety to parents, each activity included in insert with the name of the business that provided the sticker set as well as key dog bite statistics.

Results for the 2017/18 school year were outstanding, due largely to all of the generous supporters below!   Thanks to them, 500 Stop, Look & Paws sets were donated to 23 Kindergarten classrooms in Petaluma.

Feedback from supporting businesses, teachers and parents has been wonderful….and it’s all is focused on seeing students learn about dog safety!  Here is a message from one of the teachers as well as an example of children doing follow up artwork to display child/dog safety concepts learned.

“Thank you again for providing us an opportunity to learn about such an important topic, and share the information with family and friends.”  Mrs. Ryan, Kindergarten Teacher, Meadow School

Buy Stop, Look & Paws. The following message is from Dr. Zamora, one of our local veterinarians.

” As a way of giving back to the community, our family and the A.E.Z.R. Pet Hospital were happy to sponsor this information campaign in my sons’ school to increase awareness in recognizing dog body language and to deliver an engaging and relevant presentation on dog body language and dog safety to kids. The kids take home the information/activity kit, Stop, Look & Paws, which reinforces the concepts learned.  I hope that more schools would incorporate activities such as this.  The kids loved it!  Thank you Lesley!”

We’ve also received feedback from the community.  The local paper, Petaluma Argus-Courier, saw the importance of this new campaign and published an article titled “Educator Wants to Help Kids Better Understand Their Puppies”  on March 29, 2018.  http://www.petaluma360.com/news/8159441-181/petaluma-educator-wants-to-improve

Looking forward to the 2018/19 school year and beyond, my annual campaign will be expanding to include cities in addition to Petaluma given our success this year.  Of note, I will be adding a teacher kit so if I’m unable to volunteer at a school, the teacher can present the dog safety information to her/his own class.  If you’re an individual or own a business, and are interested in sponsoring a school or any organization that you feel would benefit from Stop, Look & Paws, please contact me for donation pricing and arrangements.

Thank You,

Lesley –  Kids-n-K9s

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