Having kids and pets at the same time requires a lot of patience and love. Our household should always be harmonious and that’s not something you can achieve overnight. It’s a process of learning for parents, children and pets.
Most of the work that comes with pet and child care is trying to keep to a routine that everybody can live with. Especially for stay at home moms and young children, doing all the tasks, and all at the same time, can be overwhelming.
That is why there are parents who teach their kids to help care for their pets. As early as 4 years old, kids can participate in caring for pets. This will help get some work off your shoulders.
What does pet rearing teach the kids?
When we teach our kids to take care of our pets, we are introducing our kids to the world of responsibility. Kids will learn that taking care of pets is important because that is what we should do to members of our family.
We teach our kids the value of responsibility and that when there are tasks that we need to do at home, we should perform them. We teach our kids the logic of cause and effect. If they fail to put water in the dog’s bowl, then the dog will get thirsty and get sick.
We teach our kids the value of compassion. When kids are involved with caring for our pets, you are teaching them the value of being compassionate to animals and especially non-human family members. Kids will learn that animals need us to be cared for. If not for human compassion, then dogs will be just left astray in the streets.
By engaging our kids to taking care of our pets, we are teaching them the importance of structure and routine. Make your child follow a schedule of feeding, walking and grooming the dog. For smaller kids, they get to familiarize themselves with the days of the week and how to tell time. For bigger children, they will be able to develop the habit of sticking to a schedule.
How can the children get involved?
At varying ages, children can get involved with pet care according to their level of perception and ability. Tasks should be distributed according to what they can do and will also depend on their own routines like day care, homework or play dates.
If you have a four year old, she can already help you by brushing her coat with your supervision. The parent can teach her how to pet the dog and you can also train your dog to stay still when your four year old is petting the dog. Your child can also drop treats to the floor and watch your pet eat it.
For five to six year olds, they can already engage in more complicated tasks. They can have the dog eat from their hands and brush the dog even without your supervision. Five and six year old children are more physically adept. You can maximize this by asking your kids to play fetch with the dog. The kids can even teach the dogs tricks at this time.
Seven to eight year old boys and girls are great with dogs because they can already assume bigger roles in pet care. You can already draw a feeding schedule chart which they can accomplish by putting stickers. You can teach them to take the proper measurements for the dog’s food and place it in his bowl at certain times. You can have them take the dog for walks or play in the neighborhood park. They can even bathe dogs and use child-safe products from Petsmart.
Older kids can brush and bathe pet dogs. Depending on the size, kids of this age have more fun if they are given “big kid” jobs. These tasks will make them feel confident and trusted.
Why proper training is important
When involving the kids in pet care, it’s more important for you to modify your pets’ behavior through training. At the beginning, you will of course have to supervise your children as they perform their work. You will also have to train your dog to be obedient and follow orders as he is told by you and your kids.
Your pet pooch will eventually learn in the process that your children are in charge too. It will still be up to the parents to assert themselves over misbehaving pets, and of course when kids refuse to do their duties at home.
Working together for a happy home
The happiness of the home will depend on how each family member and pet contribute to keeping your household peaceful, loving and organized. The key to this is communication. Discuss with your children the importance of doing their tasks at home especially taking care of their pets.