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Discussion Starter #1
Wondering what age you think is appropriate for a child to begin work with a dog?

Got an email from a woman today. She has a pit/mix and a 4 year old son. She said they've been to a local obedience class, and that her son is good with the dog and can take direction etc., for about 20 minutes. She wants to get them started in agility.

My gut tells me no.

I don't think it's fair to the dog (or child for that matter) to instruct them in agility where BOTH of them have to learn.

I do have a couple kids who come to class with their parents, and we do let them run their parents dogs now and then, but the difference is their dogs KNOW what to do.

Your thoughts on this one???
 

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hmm...good question!
I'd want to know what the child has done with the dog so far? Has he done any training (i mean TRAIN a trick not just repeating commands taught by mom). And what are her goals? Will she be there but mostly hands off (helping son) or will she take a lead?

From what I can tell agility is complicated at times even for adults.

This sounds silly but would it not be better for the four year old to do obedience (learn how to teach basic stuff) before trying to train agility? So at least he's had experience teaching some "easier" (at least, more straight forward) things rather than go straight to training a more complicated trick?

Even as an adult it's easier to learn (to teach) your dog simple stuff like sit/down (basic obedeience) before you try and learn (to teach) more advance stuff (jumps, weaves).
 

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4 is a bit young. I bought my cavalier for my son to help train, he was 10 but didn't do lessons at home so I ended up being the trainer. Didn't mind since she was going to be my pet therapy dog anyway. I think it would depend on the kid but I think eight is the youngest I would trust to work a dog. I have seen other dog obedience places have the policy of 12 and older. A place here local allows all ages of kids to come as long as they aren't running all over. I think it distracts the dog imo if the child is too young. My dogs love kids.
 

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I was in a class with a mature 12 year old. She was better than many of the adults.

A four year old? I think that under 10, it should be with a dog that has been trained and the purpose of the training is to train the child.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The kids currently in class (well their parents are in the class, the kids come along) are five going on six, and there is no way they are capable of handling a class situation (in my opinion). They do not take direction well enough yet.

I recently gave private lessons to an 11 year old and she did very well, but even with her attention was a bit of a problem at times and she was working with a dog that knew how to handle all of the equipment, etc.

I appreciate the input.
 

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Linda,
As much as I enjoy seeing Lanah "boss Jeb around" she's not nearly old enough to take a class with him. I have trouble seeing a 4-yr old maintain attention for the length of a class much less be at a developmental stage to do it. I agree with the others that 10-12 years old is probably the right age.
 

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I have had the same question a number of times. I ask the parent that if there is an altercation, could your child physically handle the dog. I personally think 4 is a bit young but I have seen some 4 year olds do a great job in junior handling. Hard call. If it were a smaller dog (this lady got her daughter a mini-doxie--much more size appropriate) I would give it a try and see. Like I said, I have seen some kids do better than the adults in my classes. Then I have seen some adults that just are clueless!
 
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