Guest blog by Mary Dell Harrington, co-founder of the parenting blog Grown and Flown.
As the school year draws to a close, children become giddy with the anticipation of summer vacation. Once they toss their backpacks aside, consider using the next three months as a perfect time to ramp up the training for the four-legged members of your family. Guiding your kids as you work together to train your dog or cat can be a fun and instructive summer activity for them, as well as a way to enhance your family’s relationship with a better-behaved pet.
An excellent place to design a summer curriculum is the ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist, where a library of training tools is available sorted by dog and cat care. The site includes dozens of easy-to-read and informative articles on every aspect of the care and training of pets of all ages.
Our family includes two chocolate Labradors, Moose and Gus, who are eight and four. Though they understand the basic commands of Sit, Stay, Down and Come, they have a terrible habit of jumping on anyone who walks into the house. In the Virtual Pet Behaviorist, I learned that dogs like to sniff the faces (and other body parts) of dogs they greet. Naturally, since humans stand considerably taller, dogs follow their instinct for a face-to-face “hello” by jumping up on us. Through the years, we have been inconsistent in our response to Moose and Gus and their exuberant greetings, so it is no wonder that this problem persists. This summer, once our dog-loving teenage daughter is out of school, I plan for the two of us to train the dogs to NOT jump on our friends and neighbors. I printed a guide about this very topic from the Virtual Behaviorist for some great training tips.
As in all pet care, it is we pet parents who need to be trained to help our pets learn positive behavior. Once we welcome an animal into our homes and hearts, the next step it is to teach them how to behave. While your kids take a break from their lessons, think about using their down time to start summer school for your pet.