Category Archives: Laurie Darroch

How to Help a Child Overcome a Fear of Dogs

By Laurie Darroch

Some children have a fear of dogs. Whether the cause is a previous bad experience with a dog, lack of exposure to dogs, general anxiety around them or a true deep fear, there are techniques you can use to help your child overcome that fear.

Fear stemming from a lack of exposure to dogs will be easier to overcome than an actual deep seated fear of dogs, but whatever the cause, try these methods to help your child overcome their fear.

Start Small

If you are planning to have a dog in the family, starting with a small puppy may be less threatening to a fearful child. A puppy may be energetic, but it is also needy and affectionate, and may easier for a fearful child to bond with.

Another route to go is to choose a dog that is used to being around children and is already fully trained. A calmer dog is less likely to frighten a fearful child than a very energetic, excitable dog.

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How to Choose Safe Toys for Your Dog

By Laurie Darroch

Although dogs will play with just about anything, not every dog toy is safe or appropriate for each individual dog. Choose the toys for your dog as carefully as you would for a human child, to keep them entertained and safe.

Size

Many dog toys are made specifically for a certain size of dog. Read the labels when looking for toys, and purchase the size range that is appropriate for your dog. A toy that is too big and unwieldy for a small dog or puppy may just frustrate the dog and they won’t play with it. A toy that is made for a small dog may be dangerous for a larger dog. It can even pose a choking hazard. Choose a toy that is the right size for your dog. If you have a puppy, replace his toys as he grows to keep the toys age and size appropriate.

Materials

Dog toys are made of every kind of material, from soft fabric to hard plastic or rubber and everything in between. A heavy or aggressive chewer may instantly destroy a toy that a smaller or less aggressive chewer plays with for a long time.

Always pay attention to labels. Check for toys that are non-toxic. If it is a homemade toy, be sure to use materials that are dog safe. It may look like a cute dog toy, but unless you are secure in the manufacturer or creator’s experience, it is better not to take a chance with an iffy toy.

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Coordinating Dog Training with Family Members

By Laurie Darroch

When you take a dog through training classes or train him yourself, it is important to have all members of your home on the same training program in order to reinforce the lessons. Two of the strongest reinforcers for learning and retaining what is learned are consistency and repetition, which is why all family members need to be on the same page with the training.

If you are going to training classes taught by an instructor, it’s a good idea to have more than one family member attend the classes. Although it sounds odd, in reality human companions are being trained at the same time their dog is going through the program. Humans learn the verbal and physical cues with which to train their dogs, and the dog learns how to understand and follow those lessons from both an outside trainer and their human companions. The same cues and words need to be used by all household members for each command, otherwise varied cues and commands may just confuse your dog.

If only one person is able to attend the actual lessons, there are options for learning and teaching at home afterward as well. To reinforce what you learn from a trainer, practice the lessons from each session immediately when you reach home to reinforce them in a different setting. Your dog will learn that the cues are the same regardless of the setting in which they are given. Share the lessons with the other household members and have them practice with your dog as well. Make it a group learning session once you are home.
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Tips for Teaching Kids How to Act Around Unfamiliar Dogs

By Laurie Darroch

Children are curious and fascinated with everything. Unless they have a fear of dogs, naturally they are curious about them as well. They are likely to simply walk up to a dog that is wandering around or being walked by a human companion, without understanding that there are etiquette and safety issues involved when approaching an unknown dog. It’s important to teach children the ins and outs of their own behavior around unknown dogs, as well as how to interact with both the dogs and dog owners.

Approach or Not Approach?

Unless an adult is accompanying a young child, it is a good idea to teach kids not to approach a dog out for a walk with its human without knowing if they should or not. So they won’t be tempted if they come across a dog when you are not around, make sure your child understands not to approach a dog that is running around loose unless they know the dog and the dog knows them. They won’t be bringing home any stray dogs that way either. Sure, the pull is powerful when a child sees a cute dog that they want to meet or play with, but for safety’s sake it is best to teach them not to approach strange dogs on their own, or as an alternative to find an adult they know who will help them.

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Should My Dog Sleep in My Bed?

By Laurie Darroch

There are pros and cons to having your dog sleep in the same bed that you do. In the end it is a personal choice, but here are some things to consider.

Temperament

How a dog behaves in your bed is a definite issue, especially if your dog is a restless sleeper and you are too. If you have a dog who moves around on the bed during the night, vies for the best spots, or gets into positions that cause your sleep to be disrupted, it might be better to have a designated sleeping area other than your bed for your dog.

A dog bed, crate or other comfortable spot nearby will work and still allow both you and your dog the security of knowing you are in close proximity to each other. Dogs like to be near their humans, but they can be trained to adapt to a sleeping area that works for both of you. You need to be consistent if you want your dog to sleep in a specific area.

Size

Depending on the size of your bed and your dog, your bed may not be the right place for both of you to get a good rest. If you have a puppy, consider their eventual full grown size before you get into the habit of allowing your dog to sleep with you. That cute little cuddly ball of fluff that snuggles softly against you may grow into a big leggy dog that takes a lot of room on your bed, more than is comfortable for you.

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Boundless Puppy (a Poem)

By Laurie Darroch

In their charm and soft innocence, puppies tug at every heartstring. It is a good thing they are so cute when their antics and exploring the world test our patience. With a puppy comes heartfelt love and moments of sheer exasperation, constant challenges and times of laughter, pride and amazement. Puppies are unfettered in their consumption and absorption of life. Once they worm their way into your heart with unerring love, they are there for good, a constant lifelong shadow to their loved human. Here is a poem I wrote in celebration of puppyhood.

Boundless Puppy

Into your life they wiggle in
Cute as cherubs and naughty as jinns
Soft as down, and rough and tumble
Antics laughable, but small and humble

“Aw, she’s so cute!” onlookers say,
“Watch how she rolls and tumbles and plays.”
Loving licks that wet your face
Eyes like saucers when caught in disgrace

Time demanding and all insistent
Feed me now, and non-resistant
Mournful whimpers and pleading eyes
Soft warm cuddles and contented sighs

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