Welcoming a furry member to the family can be one of the best experiences for your children. Teaching them how rewarding it can be to care for someone other than themselves is a life lesson that can dramatically impact the rest their lives in a positive way.
Empower your child with responsibility
Let’s face it: every parent wants to raise a responsible and kind child. What better way to instill these values than by expanding your family to include a loving canine companion. Dogs require a great deal of care and attention on a daily basis. Inviting your child to participate will help them develop a sense of responsibility.
Explain the vital importance of providing your pet with fresh, healthy water and keeping it replenished. Teach your child what healthy food choices for a dog look like. This can be a great way to incorporate some human nutrition lessons along the way. Explain how good eating habits directly impact your dog’s health and lifespan in the same way our food choices affect the way we feel and live.
Advise your children how toxic chocolate, grapes and raisins can be for your dog. Remind them that if the dog gets into the garbage or finds forbidden foods on the floor it might make their furry friend feel very sick and result in an expensive trip to the vet.
Compassion for living things
Teaching your children how to love and care for other living things is one of the best gifts you will ever share with them. They can carry this knowledge over to their dealings with people, pets and even plants. Understanding the cycle of life is magical. Working as a team to ensure everyone’s needs are met is an important and basic part of being in a family. Supplying the needs of a pet will help to teach them this lesson in a powerful way.
Develop watching, listening and safety skills
Use your pet as a great example regarding non-verbal communication. Teach them the value of body language and have them become familiar with how your dog carries itself when it is happy, disappointed, agitated, nervous, excited or bored. Get them used to noticing the dogs’ tail and ears and the expression in its eyes. Make sure they know it is never acceptable to approach a dog in a hyper manner and explain how scary it can be to a dog when someone runs up to them with their arms and hands flailing about. Teach your children to always ask an owner if they can pet their dog before doing so. If permission is given, show them to hold their hand still and allow the dog to come up and smell them first. These skills can help your children become more observant and will keep them safer around strange dogs.
Always having a doggy pick-up bag with you on your walks “just in case” is part of being a responsible pet owner. Consider letting your children help clean up the dog poop in the backyard. Ask them to do a perimeter check prior to their next play date. It’s not the most fun job but it is important for the health and well-being of every member of the family. Besides, they need to understand that it’s not only mom’s and dad’s job to keep the yard and the planet clean.
If you want your children to learn the many valuable lessons that come with raising a family dog, consider adding one to your household.