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10 Things to Teach your Children

10 Things to Teach Your Children About a New Pet

1. Be gentle and calm. Practice greeting the pet gently and calmly with your children. So many kids shriek and scream with excitement as they run up to dogs or cats, but children should be taught not to run up to any animal, either their own pet or one in public. When they approach, it should be in a calm manner, talking to the pet in a nice voice. Children can be taught to call a puppy or kitten to come to them and, with supervision, can give a puppy a treat for coming when called.

2. Understand that the dog or cat isn’t a toy. Although they may be soft and furry like a favorite stuffed animal toy, it’s important that your child understand that the pet needs to be treated like a real member of the family. Sit down with your child and practice how to best pet and interact with the new addition on a stuffed animal, reminding them that the real pet will be much different than a toy. Children should always softly pet the puppy or kitten with no pulling or tugging allowed.

3. There must always be an adult around when children play with the pet. This can be a tough one to enforce in a busy household, I know, but it is one of the first things you should teach. Things can go wrong pretty quickly between an inquisitive young child and an animal.

4. Respect the pet’s basic needs and moods. Children should lean that just as with a human baby, young animals need lots of rest. Tell them to not bother a puppy or kitten when it’s sleeping or resting, and if the pet walks away from play, assure them that the pet just needs a break. Children need to learn how to tell when the pet wants to interact and is relaxed and happy, and when the animal is less than happy or wants to go and do something else.

5. Do pet chores. A great way to give your children a sense of responsibility is to have the entire family help with the pet. Hold a family meeting where each family member has a specific task for the week. Each week, mix up the duties (always make sure the child can reasonably complete the task, even it it’s just for a couple of times a week), so that everyone is engaged and no one’s chore gets “forgotten”.

6. Treat animals they way they themselves would like to be treated. Sometimes, children lash out with a kick or shove against their parents or siblings and there is the risk that kid might do the same to express anger against a pet. Explain that all animals want to feel safe and loved, just like humans. Pets don’t like being teased with words, toys or food, and you should teach your child to never hit, kick or strike your pet.

7. Realize the new pet will be annoying at times. Help your child understand that bringing an animal home isn’t just fun, it’s also life-changing, almost like adding a new child to the family. Set up the expectation that this new family member will require extra attention from mommy and daddy, as it’s just a baby and needs extra care.

8. Understand the dog or cat might play favorites. Sometimes a new puppy or kitten may seem to prefer one person in the family over another, and this can lead to hurt feelings by the other family members. Ask your little ones to be patient as the pet may take awhile to come around.

9. Help keep the pet safe. Teach your child that they need to keep their eyes open to make sure the pet stays safe from everyday household dangers like foods they shouldn’t be eating or gates in the yard that don’t close all the way. It is the entire family’s responsibility to take care of the new pet and to give it a loving and happy home.

10. Empathize with the animal. It's not enought to pet gently or keep from yelling at the dog (although those are good habits to master), children should be taught to look at things through their pet's eyes, especially when it first comes home. The more they think about things from the dog or cat's perspective, the better a pet sibling they will be.

And, or course, the best thing to teach your child is how awesome and rewarding having a pet in the family can be,

LET'S GO!! (Positive Reinforcement Dog Training) LLC


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