Thursday, August 18, 2011

Spot Goes Back to School- with the kids

It’s back to school time for kids in the Inland Empire.  So what does that mean for your dog?  It might mean your child is ready for a little more responsibility, like feeding and walking the dog.  It might mean no one will be home with the dog all day and you want to look into your other options such as daycare or a dog walker.  Or maybe it means your dog needs to go back to school himself for a little more training or to become a Canine Good Citizen. 
Back to school means a lot of different things to different people.  This back to school series will answer questions about dog daycares, dog walkers, and dog trainers to help you know what to look for in each.   But first, here are a couple of easy, every day activities to incorporate in your life to help teach the kids responsible pet ownership.
5 Things To Do with the Kids and the Dog
1.       Go for a walk- A daily walk is not only great for the dog’s physical and mental health but yours as well.  By setting aside time in your day to walk the dog you get a little one-on-one time with your child to talk about their day and unwind.  This forms great bonds and habits of walking the dog regularly and getting outside regularly. 
2.       Play hide and Seek- Give your child a few dog treats and have them go “hide” (start with standing in plain sight) in another room while the dog waits with you.  Have your child call the dog with a “Come” command and let your dog find him or her.  Instruct your child to give the dog one treat each time they are found.  After the dog has found your child in one location wait with your dog while your child moves to another location and repeat the activity, hiding in a new location each time.  Once the dog gets better at this game your child can start actually hiding (i.e. behind doors or under beds).  This is a great way to train the dog to come when called and have fun with your family at the same time. 
3.       Take the dog to the park- Everyone needs a break from day to day life; kids, adults, and dogs alike.  The park is a great place for everyone to get fresh air and enjoy the day.  An alternative to the neighborhood park is going to the dog park.  Going to the dog park with your children is a great way for your kids to watch the dogs interact, read their body language, learn how to interact with new dogs, and become comfortable around dogs.  Check out Carlson Dog Park in Riverside for a little different day at the dog park by trying out the agility course.  For more info and park reviews visit  
4.       Play fetch- Another great way to work on training while having fun with the family.  Having your children use basic commands such as “Fetch” and “Drop it” is another way to teach your dog to listen to your children when they give commands, teach the dog how to play with children (i.e. no nipping or jumping on them), and continually brush up on their good doggy manners while giving them the daily exercise they need.
5.       Feed the dog together- Knowing what your dog eats and what he needs to be eating is an important part of responsible dog ownership.  Just like humans, a dog’s diet affects their skin, coat, nails, eyes, weight, joints, energy level, and digestion.  A poor diet will lead to poor health and possibly further behavioral issues like depression and aggression.  Try spending family night learning about a dog’s diet, proper food portions for your dog’s size, and how to read dog food labels. Or maybe spend a family night cooking a meal for the dog or baking some dog treats.  For great recipes, check out or simply Google Dog food recipes for even more ideas.  Don’t forget, good manners can go a long way so have your dog sit and wait before giving them any food. 

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