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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've noticed I've needed to manage interactions between Oona (6 months) and my 9 year old a lot more this week, with Oona's grabbing my kid's sleeves or pants, barking at her for attention, and generally not leaving one another alone. The kid can barely walk across the room without being bugged by the dog for attention; neither of them has enough inhibition or self control and it feels like a self-perpetuating cycle. I've found myself constantly nagging my daughter to not touch or stop touching the dog in situations where the dog is otherwise leaving her alone or behaving obnoxiously; not to tease her with toys ("throw it already!") and similar stuff. The puppy has improved a ton from her baby shark phase between 9-12 weeks or so, but she seems to be relapsing into some of these behaviors, especially with my daughter. She still has some bouts of overexcited jumping and mouthing when she's out on walks with me, but I can at least ask her for another behavior ("sit", "off") and she understands and listens with increasing success, but she doesn't listen to my kid. Part of me thinks that this is boundary testing of early adolescence and generally finding ways to take advantage in order to have more fun. We are working on having the kid do more practice with the dog, and as above I'm trying to help her (the human child) understand the effects her interactions have on the pup, but it doesn't seem to be landing much, and the nagging is starting to get old.

Then yesterday I realized that this week, my kid went back to school after about 10 weeks at home (between holiday break and remote learning through Jan and Feb,) and now I think that is a big part of this - so now she's lost access to this fun jungle gym person from 9-4 every weekday. It seems likely that they've both become a bit more exciting to one another just by virtue of being separated during the day - and it's heightened their regular interactions and made it harder for both of them to have self-control. It also makes me realize what may seem to me like a small change in Oona's routine, is felt more deeply by the dog. And it makes me think that we can expect a lot more possible changes and issues to look out for when we begin working away from home, even if we manage to prevent too much separation anxiety.

So I guess there are two questions here - one, any ideas for helping to manage the specific relationship and interaction between the kid and the dog (obviously supervision and practice, but specific exercises for them, or for me to do with them, would be great - for instance how to teach the child to end a game with the dog without leaving her hanging, lol).

The next one is more general, but what you all are doing to prepare your dogs for routine changes if you're working from home now and will be going back to work later? What kinds of behavior changes have you noticed if you have already had big changes in routine? Has anyone noticed this with kids back at school their pandemic pups are behaving naughtier with them when they have contact?
 

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I've found with a lot of animals activities requiring stillness (sitting, standing, lying down, waiting) are mentally much more difficult than activities requiring movement. I don't know your nine-year-old's level of impulse control and common sense (mine was definitely a work in progress at that age), but maybe you could introduce some exercises that require both the kid and Oona to move with concentration and focus.
  • Touch
  • Touch the end of a pointer stick (this one would have been a disaster with a nine-year-old cowpony. I'm sure I would have used it to teach the dog to flush the toilet and open doors, just because I could.)
  • Heel off leash
  • Heel with sit upon stopping
 

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One of my favourite games with Annie is to put her at a down stay then hide her ball. I did this a lot when she was a crazy teen. I knew several kids who have taught their dogs similar -both kids and dogs delight in the kid finding ever more inventive places to hide the ball and it's an impressive party trick whenever the kid is able to have friends visit again. But it's also a form of controlled, cooperative play where the dog isn't jumping or nipping.

As for going back to school- our dogs were always quite put out at the end of a summer vacation!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I've found with a lot of animals activities requiring stillness (sitting, standing, lying down, waiting) are mentally much more difficult than activities requiring movement. I don't know your nine-year-old's level of impulse control and common sense (mine was definitely a work in progress at that age), but maybe you could introduce some exercises that require both the kid and Oona to move with concentration and focus.
  • Touch
  • Touch the end of a pointer stick (this one would have been a disaster with a nine-year-old cowpony. I'm sure I would have used it to teach the dog to flush the toilet and open doors, just because I could.)
  • Heel off leash
  • Heel with sit upon stopping
Her timing is not great, but I think because Oona already knows these with the exception of the pointer target version of touch, they should be able to do these. Thanks for this - their training sessions have been more static than not and I think adding moving activities might help Oona concentrate and inhibit instead of seeing the kid as a lure whenever she enters the room.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
One of my favourite games with Annie is to put her at a down stay then hide her ball. I did this a lot when she was a crazy teen. I knew several kids who have taught their dogs similar -both kids and dogs delight in the kid finding ever more inventive places to hide the ball and it's an impressive party trick whenever the kid is able to have friends visit again. But it's also a form of controlled, cooperative play where the dog isn't jumping or nipping.

As for going back to school- our dogs were always quite put out at the end of a summer vacation!
Love it. I don't think Oona will do this with a ball, but we can try it with a Kong.
 

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I would start by having your daughter run through the Relaxation Protocol with Oona. It takes a minimum of two weeks -- I don't know anyone who's run through each successive day without having to repeat/go back a step.

As for the end of WFH, it's going to be tough for her for sure. I'm hopeful that my workplace will be more accepting of a mixed schedule, with some days at home and some days in the office. Everything with dogs is about gradual change, so anything I can do start building back up to that routine will be helpful.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I would start by having your daughter run through the Relaxation Protocol with Oona. It takes a minimum of two weeks -- I don't know anyone who's run through each successive day without having to repeat/go back a step.

As for the end of WFH, it's going to be tough for her for sure. I'm hopeful that my workplace will be more accepting of a mixed schedule, with some days at home and some days in the office. Everything with dogs is about gradual change, so anything I can do start building back up to that routine will be helpful.
Thanks Liz! Starting to look over the relaxation protocol - luckily we've started some similar mat training already and we already don't keep it on the floor because she starts to chew it when she's not actively doing mat work. I have a flexible schedule w/r to actually needing to be at home vs the office all day (I'm a prof and I don't need to be in the office/class full time, and can do a fair amount of work from home or from a coffee shop in a typical week). I think when stuff like outdoor coffee shops/patios open up again in the warm weather it will be easier for us to practice actually leaving the dog, which for now hasn't been possible because it's too cold to go anywhere to work out of the house, and any other place I could go to work indoors is closed or unsafe, and even for errands now it's one adult at a time so we don't all leave. Hoping this summer we'll be able to build in some intentional time away to prepare.
 

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This is a training tip from Click-N-Treat, who is also now a certified trainer. This might be of use for you.

I have another fun game for kiddos and dogs. It's called go wild and freeze.

You need at least one child and one dog. More kids is a good thing, though. Puppy can be on leash, and probably should because this game can get... wild.

Everyone starts as a statue. Dog is in a sit. Kid in a statue freeze. No one is moving. Everyone is still.

After silently reciting the alphabet in your head, you call out: Go wild!

Now, let the kids waive their arms, jump and wiggle, cheer and yell, AND let the puppy get excited and jump and bark and wiggle, and spin. For these few seconds, everyone is a little nutty, including you. Go wild! Make sure the puppy isn't scared by this, but excited. This isn't meant to be scary, but great fun.[

After you recite the alphabet in your head, you call out: Freeze!

Tell your dog to down or sit, your choice. Everyone is a statue. No one speaks, no one moves.

After you recite the alphabet again, call out: Go wild!

Repeat the game, still and quiet, up and excited, and still and quiet. Back and forth between excited and quiet. This teaches your puppy how to calm down when overly excited, which they don't know how to do. It's good for kids to learn how to regulate their own feelings going from excited to calm. And it's fun! You'll teach your dog a new cue in the process: Freeze. They'll know, from playing the game, that freeze means to just turn it all off and stop.

Always end after a freeze, so no one exits the game feeling cranked up.

You can click the dog for the freeze if you like, and treat repeatedly for calm if you need to. Eventually, you won't need to because the dog will learn that go wild is rewarding and makes the freeze worth it.

Be the broccoli in your dog training. If you eat your broccoli, you can eat cookies. Go wild is the cookie. The freeze is the broccoli. Be the broccoli. You're on the right track going in the right direction. Keep it up!



 
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