Category Archives: kids and pets

Five Ways Having a Pet Teaches a Child Responsibility

kids and pets kanonnBy Laurie Darroch

Adding a dog or cat to your family is a great way to teach your children how to be responsible for another living creature and learn to appreciate the work and dedication involved in caring for that pet. By including them in the care of the pet, children not only learn how to nurture it but they learn that loving another creature is much more than just playing with it on occasion. A pet depends on its people to provide food, shelter and full care.

When you adopt a dog or cat, kids may not always do the care work consistently, even with guidance or prodding, so be prepared and willing to do it, too. The ultimate responsibility is yours, but having a pet can be a good way to help a child learn how to care for and empathize with another living being and be responsible for something important. They will learn that their care matters to the pet.

Don’t get a pet just to teach your child responsibility. You should get a dog or cat because you want to love it, enjoy its company, care for it, and be a companion and family for each other. The responsibility lesson is just an added bonus.

Food

Feeding a pet is something concrete that all children can understand. They know what it feels like to get hungry and they understand that food is the way hunger goes away. They will understand the pet needing food. Teaching them to be responsible for feeding the family pet is one of the easier lessons in pet care for them to learn.

Dog Animated - no offerWhen a dog or cat really loves its CANIDAE pet food, and gobbles it up the moment the child fills the bowl, the child will see that what they did is important. Learning responsibility and really understanding that helping the pet matters – to the pet as well as the family – will reinforce your child’s desire to want to be involved.

Attention

Children sometimes view a pet as a plaything. They may tire of it the same way they do a toy, but learning the importance of caring for a living being teaches your child the value of that animal as a real creature, not a toy. The commitment is for the life of the pet. Even a very small child can empathize and learn to understand the importance of good pet care.

Actually helping and spending time with the pet helps them understand that responsibility includes taking time each day to pay attention and give love to their dog or cat. Children need that time and attention from their parents. Your child can learn that their pet needs the same thing and they can be a source of fulfilling that need.

Personal Care

Helping to bathe or brush a furry pet can help to reinforce a child’s own personal care skills. If the doggy or kitty needs to have these things done, and they help do it, that helps them understand that it is a need many living creatures have, including themselves.

Medical Care

Although any medical pet home treatment, (wound, injury or illness), needs to be supervised by an adult, having your child with you while that treatment is taking place helps the child understand that pet care also involves attending to the kitty or doggy when it is ill or injured. It also teaches empathy. Most kids understand what feeling sick or getting an injury feels like. Sometimes responsibility involves a not-so-pleasant situation, and kids need to learn that as well.

Around-the-Clock Responsibility

Like children, pets require around-the-clock care at one level or another. A child can learn that having a pet means caring for it even when it is inconvenient or conflicting with something else they want to do. That lesson helps them learn that prioritizing needs and wants is an important part of responsibility. Don’t be hesitant to include them in something as simple as having to let the dog out in the middle of the night in the backyard for a potty break, or have them help change the kitty litter.

Don’t limit the help requests to older children. Even young children can begin to learn responsibility with simple tasks that they can manage or help you with. Praising their positive involvement will encourage your child to want to be more involved with the care of the pet.

Being a responsible pet owner means being a model for your children to follow to learn how to be responsible for your pet. Kids learn by example and will follow your lead. With guidance, a child can learn to be responsible for the care of a loved family dog or cat. Learning that their involvement matters in the care of your dog or cat will teach your child that responsibility is important and that they can contribute and make a difference.

Top photo by kanonn/Flickr
Bottom photo by Mary-Frances Main/Flickr

Read more articles by Laurie Darroch

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Mity, the Mighty Beagle Who Saved My Sister

Beagle Faith GBy Laurie Darroch

We traveled all over when I was growing up, which made having a dog of any size something my father was not willing to deal with, much to my disappointment. Friends’ dogs were my exposure to the world of canines. Everywhere we went, there were always people we knew who traveled and moved with their families, too. That was the norm for all of us; we were expat nomads who made each new place home. This group of people became “family” to us. A few of the adults became loved aunts and uncles. One of our closest set of family friends, the Camerons, had a Beagle dog named Mity. Later in Germany, they added another Beagle named Schroeder to the family.

Mity’s full name was Mity Mite. He was a registered miniature Beagle with championship lines. Mity was a Beagle of determined personality.  Although small, he made his presence known. He was a bit of a food hoarder, and often got into mischief trying to get food he wasn’t supposed to have.

He would steal and try to eat anything that was not nailed down, including two small pet turtles that were kept in a bowl with a miniature plastic palm tree. They disappeared one day and were found later under a couch, alive, one with a punctured shell but otherwise fine. That didn’t match the time Mity ate two whole loaves of sliced bread and swelled up like a balloon until he looked like he would pop, or the time in Paris he stole a whole pot roast off the kitchen table and hid with it behind an antique Victorian couch in their apartment living room. Little Mity had a royal appetite that fit his lineage.

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Tips for Teaching Kids How to Act Around Unfamiliar Dogs

By Laurie Darroch

Children are curious and fascinated with everything. Unless they have a fear of dogs, naturally they are curious about them as well. They are likely to simply walk up to a dog that is wandering around or being walked by a human companion, without understanding that there are etiquette and safety issues involved when approaching an unknown dog. It’s important to teach children the ins and outs of their own behavior around unknown dogs, as well as how to interact with both the dogs and dog owners.

Approach or Not Approach?

Unless an adult is accompanying a young child, it is a good idea to teach kids not to approach a dog out for a walk with its human without knowing if they should or not. So they won’t be tempted if they come across a dog when you are not around, make sure your child understands not to approach a dog that is running around loose unless they know the dog and the dog knows them. They won’t be bringing home any stray dogs that way either. Sure, the pull is powerful when a child sees a cute dog that they want to meet or play with, but for safety’s sake it is best to teach them not to approach strange dogs on their own, or as an alternative to find an adult they know who will help them.

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Great Games for Kids and Dogs to Play Together

games for kids n dogs julie c OKBy Suzanne Alicie

Having a dog and being a responsible pet owner can be a very rewarding experience. When you have children, your dog can be more than a pet – it can be a playmate and a furry family member. Your dog needs exercise, fresh air and fun just like your kids do. With a well-trained dog and children who love and respect the animal, you can supervise a variety of fun games that everyone will enjoy.

Dog training may not be your personal specialty, but simple basic obedience training is all your dog will need to learn to play with your kids safely under your supervision. Linda Cole has shared 8 positive dog training tips that work to help you get started!

Not only are games for kids and dogs fun, but they can help improve the health and fitness of your progeny and your pet.  Exercise, agility, hand-eye coordination and a good, healthy sense of fun are great for your kids; playing with the family dog can prepare them for many types of sports and activities as they get older. Your dog may not need paw-eye coordination, but games can also improve their overall coordination as well as all the other high points mentioned above.

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How Dogs Make Babysitting Easier – and More Fun!

By Tamara McRill

Living with dogs doesn’t just make me a better babysitter – it also makes the job easier and way more enjoyable. At least that is my experience from watching a passel of nephews and other young ones. Of course there are safety issues to consider, but on the whole it is a win-win-win, for me, my pets and the children.

Here a several ways my dogs and I share the work that comes with babysitting:

Turning Off the Cartoons

This is a big one for me, since I don’t like to watch most things twice and kids seem to love watching endless repeats of their favorite shows. I also worry about too much time spent in front of the television. Turning off the TV requires coming up with activities, something that isn’t easy if you are unexpectedly pressed into service.

With a dog, however, there is always something to do. That is a big help when parents are in too big of a hurry to bring anything for their child to play with. So the dog toys become “kid toys” too, and everyone gets some quality playtime.

Safety tip: Don’t let a child and your dog play in an open yard if your pet has protective tendencies. Any stranger that walks up could be seen as a threat to the child, and your dog could get aggressive.

Playing Companions

I was in a situation a few years ago where my nephew Isaiah would be at my house through the day, but the neighborhood children were in school. While we enjoy playing together, he would get sad that there wasn’t anyone young to run around the yard with him. Enter Wuppy. My chocolate lab was just a pup then, full of boundless energy and surprising antics that delighted Isaiah.

And frankly, that delighted me too, as I wore out a lot quicker than my nephew did and way before my Wuppy did. I could supervise the two of them running through the backyard and not be too exhausted to work when done babysitting.

Safety tip: Make sure your pet is trained not to jump on people, especially children, as they could accidentally knock them over or claw their playmate. Also, don’t let children play tugging games with objects close to your dog’s mouth or with sticks. This is to prevent a dog bite or getting your pet’s gums injured.

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Kids & Pets – Tips for Preventing Dog Bites

By Suzanne Alicie

As a responsible pet owner, I have to be diligent in making sure that my dog Bear doesn’t bite someone. When we go for a walk most adults know how to approach a strange dog, or at least know better than to run up squealing and jumping around. Children, on the other hand, are naturally exuberant and excited to see a dog and they all want to pet her; she’s big and fluffy, and just draws them in.

Unfortunately, Bear is not very social and really does not appreciate the excitement of children that she doesn’t know. This can lead to heart stopping moments when I’m praying that Bear won’t snap at someone, or that the parents will take charge of their children so that I don’t have to tell the child, “STOP, don’t touch the dog.” Because then children cry and parents get angry because I’ve yelled at their child. They don’t realize that I’m trying to protect them.

I’d rather yell at their child than have my dog cause them to be hurt or even scared of dogs. Sometimes her barks and growls are pretty scary too, and she does get vocal when she feels crowded or threatened. I believe children should have a healthy fear of many things, but especially dogs. This is different from a real fear, and is more of a respect and knowledge of the possibility that the dog could bite.

As parents, it’s important that you teach your children not to approach strange dogs and if you have dogs and children you must teach your child to respect your dog as a member of the family. They have to understand that they could harm the dog if they play too rough, which could also make the dog bite them. Children aren’t mean intentionally, but sometimes they forget that their dog isn’t a stuffed animal and may try to pick him up by his tail or pull his hair while they are playing.

Feeding time is the time to keep your kids away from the dog completely. Even the most well trained dog could give in to instinct and snap at a child who gets too close to them while they are eating. In your own home and with your own children, all it usually takes to prevent dog bites is to accustom your children to being around a dog and respecting the dog’s space.

When you take your dog out, it may be wise to consider a muzzle to protect children from bites and always make sure that your harness, leash and collar are in good shape. An escaped dog running to-and-fro incites people to help you by chasing him. This could lead to strangers getting a bite for their efforts, especially children who think they are helping.

Even if you have a nice dog who likes children, it’s always important to make sure that strange children approach the dog calmly and give your pooch time to sniff them before they reach for him. Always carry a few CANIDAE dog treats when you go to the park so that you can help children become acquainted with your dog and reward your dog at the same time for being so well behaved.

Top photo by Ernst Vikne
Bottom photo by Mr. Dtb

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