How Getting a Dog Can Help Teach Your Children Responsibility
If you are a dog-lover, you know that life is always better with a canine friend. For children, the idea of adopting a dog is exciting. They imagine having a playmate who is always up for a game of fetch. Introducing a dog into your family is an important decision. While a puppy can teach fundamental life lessons, you should make sure that your kids are up to the task.
Are Your Kids Ready?Every year, shelters have to deal with dogs who are dropped off because taking care of the animal was too much responsibility. Young children may love the idea of a dog, but they may be surprised at how much work goes into pet ownership. Before you go out and get one, you not only need to prepare your home for a puppy, but also your kids. Talk to them about what sort of jobs they are expected to perform and the importance of doing them. You can show them some videos about caring for a dog before the new pet arrives.
FoodLike any animal, dogs have to eat. If a dog misses its feeding, it will look for food in places like the garbage or unlatched cabinets. A hungry dog is also an animal under stress, which can lead to unpredictable behavior. As a family, it’s important to establish rules about what and where your dog can eat. Your puppy may look adorable begging for scraps, but human food is not always the healthiest food for animals. If you are not going to feed your dog from the table, everyone has to follow that rule.
ExerciseFor a lifetime of health, your dog needs regular exercise. It is important to learn about the breed of your dog. Different types of dogs have different activity needs. Many shepherd breeds are high-intensity animals who need to burn off extra energy. Your children can help with exercise by playing with the dog or taking it for daily walks. It is important that kids know about dog safety. Your dog should always be on a leash when you are walking through the neighborhood. Even though it is a familiar territory, your children will be very upset if the dog is lost or injured under their watch. You also want to have your children learn how to control your dog so it is not constantly pulling at the leash.
CleaningYour kids need to be ready to clean your dog as well as clean up after it. Although it is an unpleasant task, picking up dog waste is a necessary part of ownership. If the person walking the dog skips this task, you will have angry neighbors and a messy yard. In addition, dog waste can attract flies, rodents and other pests as well as messing up your shoes. Another important cleaning task is removing excess hair. Brushing your dog can be a bonding experience for your children and the animal. They will learn how to be calm around each other. You will also appreciate keeping all that excess hair outside of your house.
HealthThe health of a pet is an important responsibility. In addition to food, water, and exercise, your dog needs medications like heartworm medicine to keep it free from dangerous parasites. As your pet gets older, it may need more medicines to help it deal with an aging body or other health issues. Your kids can play a big part in making sure that the dog gets the proper doses at the right time. Dental care for dogs is another critical health issue. Not only does caring for your dog’s mouth keep it healthy, but it also improves its breath. This practice is especially important if your dog is not thrilled by chew toys that can help scrape its teeth. By brushing the dog’s teeth, your children will learn the importance of their own dental care.
TrainingA big part of training a dog is helping it learn behavioral boundaries. By participating in training, your children will help keep the dog safe. Daily obedience training also helps the animal understand who is in charge. For young children, teaching the dog to be obedient is more than just teaching it some fun tricks. Children who train a dog learn about the nature of authority. They can be more confident having exercised some leadership skills. Training also teaches patience. Some dogs are easily trainable. For others, the process takes time. Children will learn the importance of daily practice when working toward a goal. In addition, training is a huge part of bonding with an animal. The dog and the children learn to trust each other as they learn how to communicate better.
SpaceYour new dog can help your children develop emotional intelligence. Dogs are excellent at reading the moods of their owners. Over time, your children will also learn your dog’s moods and the way it communicates its needs. An often-overlooked need for dogs is space. Young children may assume that they can approach their canine friend any time they feel like it. It is important that your dog has a space like a blanket or a crate where children are off-limits. When the dog goes into its crate, it is telling everyone that it needs its own time to relax. Most dogs sleep 12 to 14 hours every day. While they may love to play with the children, they also need their own time to recuperate. This reality can help children learn that people also sometimes need their own space and time. A child will grow in self-awareness, realizing his or her own personal space needs.
When you invite a dog into your family’s life, you are making an important commitment to the animal. It will depend on your family for its health and well-being. In return, your new friend will teach your children the importance of caring, friendship, and responsibility. With the right preparation and attitude, your family will have a loyal companion for many years.
Planning a party for one of your kids? Let us help!