Pet ownership is one of life’s greatest privileges. Adding a furry friend to your family can teach your kids much about the world and themselves.
Moreover, kids have a great deal of empathy coded into them already. One study showed that most young children thought that farm animals should be treated similarly to humans, though these opinions did peeter out amongst teenagers and adults.
Of course, more is needed for responsible pet ownership than big hearts and good intentions alone. Discipline and know-how are both needed here, too.
How can you teach your kids about pet ownership? Consult our quick guide below.
Start with Safety
The most important thing in any child-pet interaction is the safety of all parties. Young kids must know how to behave around creatures and not treat them as playthings.
Unfortunately, young children are unlikely to always get this right, at least on the first meeting. They’ll be curious about the creature, the pet may be curious about them, and they’ll need to figure each other out and learn boundaries. Because of this, you must supervise and instruct your child with other animals first.
Granted, such advice is quite basic and forms part of straightforward advice on keeping your kids safe around dogs, for example. Reciting body language pointers in dogs (low tails, heads turning away) can also help your kids adapt when moods shift. Teaching these types of lessons first will instil a sense of discipline and personal consequences, which will help your kids behave appropriately around dogs and other pets. Pet ownership isn’t a game, and establishing that early is best.
Kids can get bored easily with the minutia of how to do something fun. In the context of pet ownership, your child’s interest might wane when it comes to the routine of it all; feeding the pet, shopping for it, vet obligations, etc.
Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to discuss the admin side of things, regardless of how old your young kids are. Once again, it establishes that pet ownership isn’t a frivolous activity and requires constant preparation, discipline, and dedication to do properly. Have a rota for care activities, and involve them in training and grooming regimens.
Love for a pet can be expressed in many ways, even just through a bit of shopping! So, involving your child in finding good pet food might be a good idea. You can establish ethical considerations (such as buying from providers that provide all-natural ingredients) and finding vet-approved pet food providers that cater to creatures of all breeds, sizes, and ages. To that end, Applaws have many of the wholesome food choices you need for your pet.
Lead by Example
Children are less inclined to do something if they see that their parents don’t want to do it either. Your attitude will be infectious no matter what it is.
Therefore, you need to be a role model of responsible pet ownership. You should share the responsibilities we’ve mentioned so far rather than delegate everything.
If you have a dog, clean up their stools in public and follow leash laws. Stroke your pets gently and with their fur rather than against it. Practice the pet ownership behaviour you’d like to see in your kids.
*This is a collaborative post. For further information please refer to my disclosure page.
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