When it comes time to get a family pet, kids make all kinds or promises about caring for it to the point you won’t even notice the animal being in your home at all. Although kids have the best of intentions, the interest of caring for their new pet can ware thin after a few weeks leaving you with all the hard work.
It is important to teach your kids not only the importance of being a responsible pet owner but you must also show them how to do this.
Here are a few tips on how to involve your child in caring for their pet and in turn teach them how to become a responsible pet owner.
Lead by example
If your child sees you caring for the family pet by feeding it, cleaning up after it, exercising it and playing with it, he or she will want to play follow the leader and do as you do. You cannot expect your child to know how to care for a pet if you have not shown them how you do it. Remember, keep it fun and light hearted, as soon as they know you think it’s a chore, it will become the same for them.
Make it voluntary
Don’t force your child into it as this will only deter them further. Depending on their age ask for their help and if they choose to help good, if not, it’s okay. You can start delegating tasks like walking the dog when the child is in their early teens but smaller tasks like helping feed the bird can be done from five years onwards.
When your child shows initiative in caring for your pet, or when they perform a task you have asked them to help with make sure you give them the praise they deserve. Try not to get cross if they make a mess, or get things mixed up in the process, keep feedback positive. Remember, to tell them how their help is going to benefit the pet as this tends to resonate well with children.
Respecting your pet’s space
Just like you and I, pets need their personal space. It is important to teach this to your children from a very early age. This is for safety and also for your pets comfort. Explain why it is important to respect their space as it better that they know the reasons why rather than just being told not to do something.
Here’s a list of small tasks your child can help you with:
- Daily feeding and watering
- Letting you know when it’s time to purchase pet food and supplies
- Picking out treats and toys
- Daily walks and exercise
- Cleaning up after your pet (indoors and out)
- Bathing and brushing your pet
- Picking up your pet’s toys
- Teaching your pet new tricks
- Helping to ensure that your yard is secure so your pet can’t escape
- Keeping your pet’s bedding washed
- Keeping your pet’s leash and other gear where it belongs