Over the years I have had a number of students say that they wish they had taken a dog training class before they had children. After working with them and their dog, I understand why they made that comment. While there are exceptions, you can get a good idea of how that person is going to do with their dog by observing their children. As we all know the training principles for kids and dogs are much the same.
Two extreme examples come to mind. The first involved a lady who brought two pre-schoolers to class with her. Before class she would sit them on a stack of tumbling mats at one end of the room. If at any time during the one-hour class they would get restless, she would snap her fingers as she pointed at them. They immediately settled down. As you might expect, she did an excellent job with her dog.
The second example again involves pre-schoolers. A couple brought the kids and a large German Shepherd Dog to class. The building had a balcony over looking three sides of the training floor. The kids were all over the balcony, throwing things down onto the floor, climbing ropes and being generally disruptive. The parents were totally unaffected by this behavior as was their dog by their training. Fortunately, the dog was good-natured. The children had to have someone come to the house during the day since their behavior has resulted in their being kicked out of nearly every day care facility in the area.
In some cases, similar behavior patterns in both the dog and the child can be seen in other areas such as aggression, destructive behavior and responsiveness towards adults. If the dog in not responding, take a look at the kids.
Instructors would be wise to observe the children of students particularly those of students having difficulties. It may well be that you are working against the basic nature of the person. In this case, extra effort should be made to emphasize the principles of good training practices so they can gain control of their dog and, hopefully, the child as well.
©1987 W. Herbert Morrison, III