Can Students/Children Be Trained with Proven Dog Training Techniques?

October 03, 2012 | | Comments 0

By Ray Holt, Graduate Student, University of Mississippi,  October 2, 2012

The use of dog training methods to train or teach students and children could be effective but certainly a highly controversial subject.  Obviously, some dog or animal training techniques are not appropriate for children (such as food rewards, choke chains, negative reinforcements, etc.)  (Estep). However, there are a few methods that are already similar between training dogs and students/children that are worth mentioning.  These methods include positive training, exercise, diet, dealing with negative behavior, playing, and leadership.

“Positive or reward-based training is not a new concept. Trainers have been using reward-focused techniques with great success for many years.  We know that if a dog offers an action or behavior we like and that action or behavior is rewarded there is a strong likelihood that the dog will offer it again.”  (Stilwell, 2008).  Positive, deserving rewards given to a child or student usually yields a child that wants to repeat the behavior or a student that is willing to continue learning for the reward.

Exercise and proper diet for both dogs and children keep their bodies and minds in shape and toned for responding to directions from the teacher.  Dogs that are fed the incorrect food for their breed and size can get very sick.  Similarly, children that are fed a consistent diet of bad food, such as excessive sugar, can develop sickly permanent conditions.  In training both dogs and our children we must be very careful what type of food we choose to give them.

Dogs and children need to learn to respond properly when their behavior is undesirable.  For both, you need to identify the reason for their undesirable behavior.  You cannot be effective in modifying behavior if you do not know the reason.  Understand how your dog and child perceive their world and make adjustments accordingly.  Good communication helps create a bond between dogs and children.  Dogs don’t speak human talk and small children don’t understand all the words we use.

Keeping your dogs and children active with playing time is both enjoyable to them and helps build a strong relationship.  You do not want to be over active either, as that could make them tired, disobedient and even angry.  It is generally agreed that dogs should not be hit as part of training.  I think children, on the other hand, should certainly be spanked properly when they commit an offense on purpose or in defiance.

Dogs are a nice gift and a great companion when properly trained. “Children are a gift from God and they can be incredible blessings to our marriage if we obey God and fulfill our responsibility as parents.” (Kids).  Properly and lovingly raising your kids can result in great blessings.  A dog that becomes dedicated to a family can become a blessing not only in companionship but in safety as a guard dog.

The biggest difference and consideration in training and raising a dog versus raising a child is that a child has a soul that will live forever.  “Our tasks is not to seek to simply raise up ‘good’ children, but children who truly love God with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strengths.  We are to strive to raise children to have a vibrant personal relationship with the Lord Jesus …” (Kids).

Our responsibility is overwhelming in raising and training our children.  Training and raising our dogs can be enjoyable if done early enough and consistent throughout their lives.  Many families raise a puppy and children together which creates a bond between the two that becomes encouraging to the child as they grow older.


Estep, D. , Hetts, S.  Dog Training Methods. ABA, Inc. First Published in the Rocky Mountain News Denver, CO.  Retrieved on September 20, 2012 from

Kids: A Gift of Rain / Incredible Fruits If Properly Harvested. Is The Honeymoon Over.  Retrieved on September 21, 2012 from

Stilwell, Victoria. (April 25, 2008).  Positive training – a better way.  Dog World. Retrieved on September 24, 2012 from

Filed Under: General EducationStudent Training

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