Dog Training for Kids – Love and Success for All
Princess, a playful Border Collie dog who is deaf from birth, and Rafi, a rail-thin eighth grader who has seen his share of sorrow, are learning the language of love.
Each week, Rafi and Princess meet at the sports field for an extracurricular Dog Training for kids course offered by Boys Town Jerusalem. Yet the knowledge that Rafi and his classmates are gaining goes far beyond the skills to tame their canine friends: both boys and dogs are learning lessons for life about communication, cooperation and trust.
“These dogs are no threat to children who are frightened or traumatized, and they can open the way for healing”
“Dogs with problems are easier for kids with problems to relate to,” explains instructor Shaked Yisrael. “These dogs are no threat to children who are frightened or traumatized, and they can open the way for healing. Princess, for example, is a wonderful, intelligent dog who cannot hear a command, but she can understand hand motions and other means of communication. We’re teaching the boys the specifics of working with Princess, but as with every dog, they will need sensitivity, patience, creativity, and the will to succeed.” Rafi and his classmates are accepting the challenge with a passion.
Regardless of the boys’ backgrounds, there’s a world of success and confidence to be gained from the experience of teaching a dog to obey. The course aims to give the boys hands-on experience in giving clear directions and orders, and in developing consideration and respect for the dog’s feelings. Without a doubt, these lessons carry over into the human sphere as well.
“A dog won’t listen to someone who yells or insults him and puts him down,” Shaked tells the students. “He does need praise and rewards in good measure. Beyond that, if and when the dog doesn’t grasp what you’re trying to teach him, you must devise a different method to teach. A dog trainer needs endless patience.”
“When you give a dog love, he will give it back to you with all his heart.”
The sessions include ample time for the boys and dogs to interact, as the future dog tamers practice their techniques on the frisky canines of all sizes and breeds. Watching Rafi stride by with Princess on a leash, BTJ Principal Rabbi Yehudah Rosencrantz noted, “Traumas at home had made Rafi so frightened that he couldn’t even touch a dog at the start. But gradually he’s learned the ‘language’ to relate to Princess, whom he adores.”
“Overall, we view the dog training for kids course as a fun, informative activity for Boys Town Jerusalem students to gain skills and sensitivity. But for a number of boys at risk, this course has proved to be an invaluable key towards healing and growth.”