Whenever you think of adding a new pet dog to your family, kids get extra willing to offer their help. The simplest way of making sure your kids are involved is by including them in the daily responsibilities that come with owning a dog. Dogs need to be taken out for exercise, walk, they have to be fed and groomed at regular intervals. These are few tasks where you can definitely involve your elementary-aged kids, as mentioned by the head of behavior at the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter, Laura Garber.
Even though you may think that your kids are still too little to take on the few major responsibilities of dog training, you can still introduce them to the new furry member of your family in different tricky ways. Mary Burch, Director of the Canine Good Citizen Program believes that children of all ages can start participating in taking care of a dog and training him.
Making your kids learn the basic commands
Although the full responsibility of training your dog should remain with an adult member of the family yet the child should not be left totally out of the process. You don’t have to include your child in the complex aspects of training your dog and establishing a bond with him.
The basic skills like making a dog sit down, stay put there, come to you when called and walk on a leash are all commands that can be taught by a child under the strict supervision of an adult. When your child is allowed to do such tasks, she will feel important in contributing her bit to taking care of the dog. Don’t forget to use a food treat as an incentive while you guide your dog into teaching him different positions and skills.
In order to teach your four-legged friend how to sit, parents have to teach their kids how to hold a food treat right above his nose and how to move it back over the head of the dog slowly. The dog, while trying to follow the food, will rock back and sit down. As soon as he follows your command, say ‘Good Boy!’ and give him his favorite treat.
To teach a child how to walk a dog on a leash, you have to hold the treat waist-high. Once you hold the treat waist high, tell, ‘Let’s go’, and begin to walk. The dog will automatically start watching the treat or the toy and start following it. You can also teach a dog how to stay down by holding his favorite food right in front of the nose of the dog. Drop the hand towards the ground so that he follows and drops down into the sitting position. When he lies down, give him a treat and say, ‘Good Boy!’ This keeps encouraging them!
Importance of taking care of your pet by your kid
Do you ever find your kid begging for a puppy everytime she sees one playing at the dog park? Or do you find her telling that they are cute creatures but she doesn’t want them at home? In case you plan to grow your family along with a canine friend, there are multiple benefits for the child. Taking care of a dog by the kid has several benefits.
Although all dogs are not trained guard dogs but most of them have a basic instinct of protecting their family members and being loyal to them. If you can give your dog proper training, he will make sure your child is always safe under his supervision. Pet dogs even have the power of sensing toxic allergens.
Enhances the bond
The bond shared by a child and the dog sparks a special empathy that puts your kid in an automatic caretaker mode. When your child takes good care of your dog, she learns how to understand the needs of others and how to provide care in accordance with their needs.
Helps keep your dog active
There’s no doubt about the fact that dogs need lot of attention, play and exercise. If you find your kid spending too much time in front of tablet or smartphone, this is the best way to pull off your kid from this addiction is making her engaged with the dog. Bribe them by giving them an energetic dog that is always ready to adventure with your kid.
Reduces your anxiety levels
Playing or cuddling with your pet releases oxytocin, which is a hormone that reduces your stress levels. Teaching your kid to become a proper dog owner has more to it than just filling up good food in the feeding bowl or playing with him in the backyard. You have to teach your child how to take care of the dog everyday and also read his body language. It is also vital for the entire family to know the right time when your dog might be in need of medical assistance.
How old should your child be before you bring her a pet dog?
Your kid can start learning to take care of a dog only when she reaches the age of 3. In between the ages of 3 and 6, you can also teach your kid to help you in feeding the dog, offering him water, playing with him and brushing your dog, of course under your supervision. When your child crosses the age of 7, help him learn the details of dog care like cleaning the bowl of food, scooping waste and training him.
Once you have jotted down all the important duties that your kid has to perform, try to design a puppy calendar along with a daily care schedule. Your child will hold accountable and can keep a tab on what they have to do and on which day.
Gifting your child with a pet dog is gifting them confidence, accountability and empathy. As a parent, you will very soon be alarmed to see that the growth that your child goes through. Moreover, when your dog is alternatively taken care of by all the members of the family, you can be sure of having a fit dog.