Back in October of 2012 I had a chance to work with two very nice young ladies. They are hungry for knowledge about dogs and I shared quite a bite of it with them. The sisters, then 5 and 10 years old, both love dogs, but the 5 YO was afraid of bigger dogs. Patchs is a bit “high strung” and that didn’t help.
UPDATE: Patchs and I spent a few hours per week playing with the girls and the girls got to safety interact with Patchs in a fenced-in area.
I spent most of my time working with the 5 YO because she clearly needed to learn that the dog would not hurt her. I showed her that by just looking at the dog she could see what the dog was thinking and what it was going to do. Then I showed her how to use her voice and her body to control Patchs.
After about one month, she was no longer afraid of Patchs, and in fact, she started to play fetch and even started playing “chase” with her. Everytime we walk in that neighborhood, Patchs would turn into their driveway. Patchs had a new friend! Even better, every time we would see the little girl she asked us if we could stop to play for a few minutes. I get a big “Warm Feeling” in my heart every time when we get ready to leave because, she asks us, “WHEN are going to come back again!”
As I’ve said before, it’s very rewarding to “pay it forward”. Mentor kids about dogs is exciting for me because I get to watch them learn and when they “get it” their eyes get wide and a big smile spreads across their faces. It’s very cool to see that look when they realize that they can communicate with an animal in a completely natural way.
Teaching kids to properly treat animals (with love and respect) at an early age will build good character that will serve them in all areas of later life. We as adults have a responsibility to give the children in our little corner of the world all of the tools they will need to become not only great pet owners, but responsible members of society.
Teaching them to work with nature (not against it) will help a lot.