Training your Puppy: A Family Affair

Bradley Phifer


Puppies and adolescent dogs often have trouble controlling their impulses – much like children. It is normal for them to run up and jump on people or nip pant legs and skirts. Children typically respond by running away or yelling at the dog which will excite him and lead to more jumping behavior.


Rather than trying to keep the kids from being kids and the dog from being a dog, teach your children the statue game. This simple game will show both the kids and the dog how to appropriately react in those moments of excitement

  • While your dog is out of the room, explain the rules of the game to the kids. Once everyone is ready and knows their roles bring your dog into the room on leash.
  • Tell the kids to “Go Wild!” When they hear this phrase, they should start running around, waving their arms and jumping up and down.
  • Watch your dog carefully as the kids run around. When he gets excited and you anticipate he is going to jump or nip, tell the kids to “Freeze!”
  • With the kids frozen in their statue poses (hands at their side, looking up to the ceiling), ask your dog to sit. When he does, you or the child standing closest to him can give him a treat.
  • Then start the game over by telling the kids to “Go wild!” again.

After several practice sessions your dog will quickly learn the game and begin sitting as soon as the kids freeze. Stopping the play and freezing when he jumps up will become his cue to sit! You are now ready to begin using the skill in real life. Have the kids who interact with him freeze if he starts getting too excited. When he sits after they freeze, they can offer him a reward for polite behavior.

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