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5 Tips to Involve Your Kids When Training Your New Dog

kids-train-dogsFew events are as exciting as bringing home a new dog — and let’s be honest, no one is more excited than the kids! The next step is to get everyone on the same page when it comes to training. Although that probably sounds really boring to the youngsters, it’s important for them to be involved in the process. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to get your kids involved in training without losing the fun, and here are a few to get you started.

Make training part of your routine

You probably already have a consistent routine with your kids, so why not tie in caring and training for your dog? As your kids come out for breakfast, have them help with your pup’s morning meal as well. One can work with him to sit and stay while another scoops out the proper amount of food. Give guidance as needed, but try to let them handle it as independently as possible. Potty training is an easy after-school task to maintain, and trips to the backyard can even be a rewarding way for both your dog and child to burn off some excess energy before homework and other responsibilities.

Stop the jumping early

It may seem adorable when an excited pup starts jumping up and down every time your child walks in, but it can lead to accidental injuries. Nip this behavior in the bud early, and make your child an active part of the training. Have sessions where the dog is on a leash with your child present. If the dog starts jumping, your child should cross her arms and turn around. Once the dog has regained his composure, your child can interact with him again. Be sure she repeats this behavior outside of training sessions — if she comes home from school and the dog won’t stop jumping, she needs to wait until he’s calmed down to give him a hello. It might be tough at first, but once your dog realizes he gets more attention by staying calm, he’ll learn to keep his cool!

Go on walks together

Walks are a great opportunity to teach your child how to maintain control over your dog. You should keep leash control until you know exactly how Fido responds to neighbors, joggers, and other animals on the street, but your little one can certainly learn by watching. You can also take the opportunity to have a few outdoor training sessions to teach your dog how to obey in public amid other distractions. When you’re confident your child is prepared, grant control of the leash but always stay close by until you’re both certain she can walk the dog without your supervision. Not sure she’s ready? Have practice walks around the yard and have her command the dog to heel, sit, and stay. Not only will you gain better insight into whether or not she can handle a solo walk, you’ll give her extra practice.

Play training games

Training doesn’t always have to be structured; in fact, you can reinforce important commands with games! Fetch can be an excellent way to work on “sit,” “retrieve,” and “drop it.” You can even add multiple balls to make it more high-energy and keep your pet on his toes! Create a training version of “Red Light, Green Light” by using words like “Come,” “Stop,” and “stay.” Both child and dog will be eager to play, and they won’t even realize they’re training!

Teach kids about warning signs

Sometimes, a dog just isn’t into the idea of training, and he’ll have his own ways of telling you. Talk to your kids about the warning signs of an uncomfortable dog, including:

  • Tail straight up
  • Showing the whites of eyes
  • Growling, displaying teeth
  • Hunched back
  • Raised fur

Discuss the importance of respecting a dog that’s saying no and knowing when to give him his space. Remember, he may not have been in a home with kids before so he needs time to adjust.

Don’t forget to talk to your kids about how training goes when you’re not around — you can even create a goals chart as your dog meets new milestones. Keep your children involved from the start, and your dog will happily integrate into your family.

About the Author: Paige Johnson adopted her first dog in her early 20s. Today, she is the proud “mom” to three pups. With a little help from obedience classes, she has turned them all into well-trained four-legged friends, who often accompany her on her many fitness adventures, including regularly exploring local hiking trails. She enjoys writing about health, fitness, and pet care for LearnFit.org.

Teaching your dog to swim

 teaching your dog to swimTaking a quick dip or splashing around in the surf is a great way for dogs to cool off during the summer months. But besides being lots of fun, swimming can also be really beneficial to your dog’s health and wellbeing.

Swimming helps build and maintain healthy muscle mass, and as a non-weight bearing exercise, it’s great for dogs that are recovering from injuries or have arthritis.

But while most dogs can learn to swim, doggy paddle doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Some dogs will be more keen than others to take the plunge, and certain breeds aren’t designed for swimming so they may need a little extra help in the water. So with this in mind, here’s our step-by-step guide to safely teach your dog to swim:

Start slow

Before getting stuck into swimming lessons, make sure your dog is comfortable around water. Throwing your dog in at the deep end is a big no-no. It is not only dangerous, but could put your pooch off water for life!

You want to make your dog’s first experience of water memorable for all the right reasons, so choose a warm day when he will enjoy splashing around in the sunshine. For real beginners and puppies, setting up a kiddie pool in the backyard, which you can fill up gradually, will help you raise confidence levels, and there are always treats and toys for those who need a little more convincing!

Mastering some basic commands, such as “come” will help you both get to grips with swimming faster and knowing “fetch” will be useful for getting your dog accustomed to going in the water and coming back to you.

Invest in a vest

Before taking your dog into water that is out of his depth, it’s also worthwhile investing in a doggy life vest. While some dogs may just need to wear one for their first few swimming lessons, others may always need a little extra help in the water.

For example, Dachshunds and Basset Hounds have shorter legs so they won’t produce as much force with each stroke, while leaner breeds such as Greyhounds don’t have as much fat to keep them afloat. Chow-chows and Pekingese have thicker coats that can become water-logged, and flat-faced breeds such as Pugs and Bulldogs often have a hard time breathing when playing or exercising.  All these factors can make swimming difficult and cause your dog to tire easily, so opting for a life vest can help make swimming safer and much more enjoyable for your pup.

Vests with handles are great for smaller breeds, and will enable you to support your dog and quickly and easily lift him out of the water if he begins to tire. But before you both take to the water, it’s important your dog gets used to wearing his life vest. He may look a little silly wearing it on walks for a couple of weeks, but you want to avoid any unnecessary distractions once you’re in the water.

Choose the right location

All dogs have different lifestyles, and so choosing the right location for your dog’s first swimming lesson is key. While some of us may have regular access to a pool, others may live near the sea, or by a lake or river, so it’s important to choose somewhere where your dog will be safe and comfortable and will enjoying regularly visiting once he’s a seasoned swimmer!

Choose a location that has calm, shallow and clear water. If you’re using a lake or river, make sure the bank isn’t too steep or slippery, and avoid streams that swell into fast rivers or ridges that turn into cliffs. If you’re starting out on the beach, then try to find a quiet spot and be aware of deeper water and currents. Rough waves can be frightening, especially for dogs that may still be a little nervous around water, so choose a day when the waves are gentler and your dog is happy playing along the shoreline.

If you have a pool or intend to take your dog to a doggy-friendly pool regularly, then taking lessons in a pool can help him get used to his surroundings. However, pools can be dangerous for dogs, and more often than not, a dog will be instantly out of his depth as soon as he gets in, so staying close to the steps and ensuring you are able to lift him out of the water is essential.

Take small steps

Taking small steps is vital for boosting your dog’s confidence. He needs to feel reassured he can get out of the water, which is why choosing somewhere with a gradually sloping shoreline or a kiddie pool is ideal to begin with, so he can paddle in the water and find his own way out safely. If you’ve chosen to learn in a swimming pool, there’s no excuse not to get in too! You’ll make your dog feel at ease and be able to support him much easier if you’re in the water.

Start by tossing a floating toy or ball into the shallows and walking into the water with him before running out. It needs to be fun, so provide lots of praise and treats for good behavior!

Once he’s used to the water, gradually escort him in deeper until he starts to paddle and keep afloat. He may try and lift his front legs to climb out, causing his rear to sink, so it’s important to support his middle while he gets used to paddling.

Once he’s mastered paddling, you can throw floating toys or balls for him to fetch and bring back to you before practicing turning around in the water.

Above all, it’s important to keep swimming lessons short and fun, so stop each session before your dog gets physically or mentally drained to ensure he remains engaged in this new activity. Remember, swimming isn’t for everyone, so if your dog really doesn’t take to water, then please don’t force him – he’ll just end up disliking it more!

Hydrate, rinse and dry

Dogs can become quickly dehydrated, especially in warm weather, so make sure you provide some shade and a drink after swimming. It’s also possible to consume too much water, especially if your dog is carrying a ball in his mouth, so be aware he may need an extra-long walk for toilet breaks and consult your vet if your dog experiences vomiting, bloating, extreme drooling, weakness and widened pupils – he may have contracted water poisoning which can be fatal if untreated.

To avoid skin irritations and ear infections, it’s a good idea to rinse your dog with clean water and make sure he’s dried off, especially in cooler weather. Puppies, elderly dogs and dogs that are already in poor health will be affected by the cold sooner, so if you see signs of hyperthermia (excessive shivering, low body temperature, slow movements and dullness) take him to the closest veterinary clinic as soon as possible.

Staying safe

Even after your pup has mastered the doggy paddle, there are still potential dangers to be aware of while swimming. Even strong swimmers get tired, so your dog may still benefit from a life vest even after he’s learned to swim. And just like humans, it’s important that dogs always wear life vests when on a boat.

While you should always supervise your dog around water, once your pup has grown in confidence, he may be tempted to take a dip whenever he likes, so it’s important to dog-proof your pool if you have one in the back yard. While pool covers may seem safe, they’re actually very deceptive to dogs, so investing in pool fencing is a much safer way to keep your pooch out of the water. Pool alarm systems and dog-friendly pool ladders can also be installed as an added precaution.

Remember, all dogs are different, and like learning any new activity, patience is essential. But if you stick to the short sessions and provide lots of encouragement, your pooch will be swimming circles around you in no time!

Happy, Silly, Sassy Lab

labrador retriever pet insurance“We adopted Marley a little over a year ago and at the time she was a happy, silly, sometimes sassy Chocolate Lab who always had a smile on her face.  Aware that we were dealing with the unknown, we thought it wise to add Marley to our insurance plan with Trupanion, which already covered our other dog.

Four months after adopting Marley, she injured herself while playing and needed to have a TPLO done on her right knee. This was not an inexpensive surgery, and Trupanion was great processing our claim and sending us a check right away—we received it within a week of submitting the claim. Trupanion also helped out immensely when Marley had to spend 2 nights at the emergency hospital for her sensitive stomach.  With all the testing and ultrasounds that were done, Marley racked up quite the tab during her stay. Again, Trupanion was quick with getting us the reimbursement and we were able to put the money back in our reserves without an impact to our budget.

Every time you call Trupanion customer service with questions you can tell that employees are smiling when they answer the phone. They are knowledgeable and helpful and have been able to ease any stress or concerns I have had during these stressful situations.

We are now about 8 months out from the TPLO surgery at Bishop Ranch Veterinary Center and Marley is now not only the happy, silly, sometimes sassy Lab we adopted, but she is enjoying a more fulfilled and healthy life due to the standard of care Trupanion enabled.  Marley is once again able to go on hikes and long walks, and she even runs around instigating chase and keeping up with puppies half her age at the dog park.”

Coleman and Chelsea S.


Livermore, CA
Enrolled: March 2015
Condition: TPLO Surgery, Enterocolitis
The Trupanion Policy Paid: $10,034.87

#BestFriendFriday: Adopt a Pet from the Southeast

Ready to adopt a new best friend? For five weeks, we will showcase adoptable pets from different regions across the United States and Canada. On each #BestFriendFriday our goal is to find homes for the pets featured and to raise awareness about some great shelters in North America. Take a look through this week’s pets and share with friends or family that may be looking for a new cuddle buddy or hiking partner. If you’re interested in adopting any of these pets or looking at other adoptable animals, please reach out to the shelter or rescue. Happy #BestFriendFriday!

All of these pets are ready to be adopted and find a forever home! If you’re interested in adopting any of this week’s pets make sure to ask the adoption team about Trupanion‘s special adoption offer.


Adopt Karmin

Name: Karmin

Location: Justin Bartlett Animal Rescue

Bio: Meet Karmin, a sweet, mostly-blind Yorkie who is patiently waiting for her forever retirement home. Karmin is a senior gal who gets around pretty well with little guidance. She loves her squeaky toys and just wants to sit on the sofa next to you, or on your lap. She’s pee pad trained and would be perfect for a human who is retired or works from home.

Karmin is spayed, up to date with vaccines, and has been heartworm tested and microchipped. She would love to go home with a new family, so check out Justin Bartlett Animal Rescue for more information on this sweet girl!


Adopt Bart

Name: Bart

Location: Tri-County Animal Rescue

Bio: Bart is very playful and extremely smart. He just wants to please everyone he meets! Bart is loving and affectionate but prefers grown-ups to children. He gets along well with other dogs, but sometimes forgets his size and can play a little rough. This Vizsla mix was rescued from a high-kill shelter and needs an owner that will work with him and has the patience to train him. This handsome boy is housebroken and is ready to find his forever home!



Adopt Cooper

Name: Cooper

Location: Virginia Beach SPCA

Bio: “Hello, my name is Cooper! I arrived at the Virginia Beach SPCA in June of 2016 because my family was worried when they found me snuggling with the baby in the crib. I am a really friendly guy and I actually do quite well with children! I also have experience living with dogs and don’t mind them one bit. Since being here at the shelter, I have been around other cats and what do you know, I like them too! I am a very sweet boy and don’t ask for much – just lots of love! I was diagnosed with a urinary tract infection by the shelter veterinarians, so I am on a special food to help prevent future infections. Urinary tract infections are actually quite common in cats and can be cleared up with antibiotics and preventative food like mine! I would really like a home of my own – I hope you will pick me!”

#BestFriendFriday: Adopt a Pet from the Midwest

Ready to adopt a new best friend? For five weeks, we will showcase adoptable pets from different regions across the United States and Canada. On each #BestFriendFriday our goal is to find homes for the pets featured and to raise awareness about some great shelters in North America. Take a look through this week’s pets and share with friends or family that may be looking for a new cuddle buddy or hiking partner. If you’re interested in adopting any of these pets or looking at other adoptable animals, please reach out to the shelter or rescue. Happy #BestFriendFriday!

Adopt Midwest Pets