Everyone loves dogs. Especially kids. According to the American Pet Products Association, 44 percent of households in the U.S. have pets. And if you’re like most people, you decided to get a pet because you thought he or she would be a great companion for your child.
But anyone that has a pet knows that as much as we love them, owning a dog is a big responsibility. If you and your family are thinking about adopting a pet, there are a few things The Barking Lot found that might be helpful to discuss with your children before you do.
Experts say that owning a dog can be beneficial in a number of ways – from helping you exercise more and relieve stress to increased immunity to allergies and a better social life. One of the ways that our pets benefit from a loving forever home is by teaching young children how to gently care for their favorite four-legged friends.
Cultivate a Good Relationship with Your Pet
Educating kids about the importance of positive, respectful behavior towards pets is probably one of the first things to demonstrate to them about being a pet owner. When Fido comes home, he becomes a part of the family. A good way to help your child remember this is by asking them to treat your pet like they would a brother or a sister.
Assess Your Child’s Readiness to Meet Your Pet’s Needs
Another thing for children to know is that there is a time commitment involved in caring for a dog. Some of the basics for caring for a dog include feeding, walking, and even dog training. If you know that your son or daughter has trouble remembering to brush their teeth in the morning, then you may want to ask yourself “Would Billy remember to feed or walk the dog?”
If that’s the case, experts suggest making a list of all of the things that go along with taking care of a dog and then ask your child which ones they think they’d be able to handle. Start them off with an easy job once or twice a week and then build with frequency until it becomes a habit. Model for your child what to do and how to do it and they’ll soon follow your lead.
Find Ways to Motivate Your Child
Help motivate your kids to want to do their pet chores by adding a new game or toy that both your children and pet will love. This will also help the family bond with him. The more time spent with Fido, the more excited your kids will be to take on their new responsibilities.
Assign Jobs by Age
Create age-appropriate tasks for your children. Enlist each child for a job. Depending on their age have the youngest take on the simpler tasks like feeding the dog, while the oldest child walks him.
When the Ball Drops, Think Positive
Use positive reinforcement when your child completes a task for their pet chores. Have them do fewer fun tasks whenever they forget to feed the dog but try to only associate consequences with pet chores and not activities outside of that.