According to research, children who own a dog are physically, mentally and psychologically healthier. Owning a dog helps facilitate their social-emotional development so they behave better, learn faster and are emotionally grounded. Getting a dog, however, is an important decision that comes with responsibilities. Here are the things to take into account if you want the best dog-ownership experience for your kids.
Teach Your Kids Responsible Dog Parenting
What is the best way to prepare your kids to become loving and nurturing pet owners? Perhaps, it would be greatly advantageous to expose them to the world of fur-parenting before actually getting a dog. There are a few ways to do this.
If their friends or relatives own a dog, you might want to ask them to bring their dog over to spend time with your family. This is a great way to let your children experience what having a puppy is like as well as duties associated with ownership. Get them to feed, walk, play and even bathe the dog with you.
You might also want to try pet-related video games that perfectly simulate pet parenting. This is a fun and exciting way for your kids to learn the responsibilities of owning a pet.
Likewise, there is a host of excellent movies related to dogs for kids to gain knowledge and learn skills. Some notable examples are Beethoven, My Dog Skip, and Hachi: A Dog’s Tale. This is another enjoyable way of showing them what it’s like to have a furry friend — and what it’s like for pets to have humans as their keeper.
Teach Them Positive Reinforcement
Some relatively inexperienced people resort to punishment to modify a pooch’s behavior. This may work albeit to the detriment of the dog’s overall well-being. The best way to motivate good dog behavior is through positive reinforcement.
Teach your kids to encourage good behavior in their dog by rewarding him with treats, giving him a toy or petting him. When the dog misbehaves, show your children how to get the better behavior from your dog. This way, your dog is very clear of the good behaviors that the family prefers. Teach your children that physical punishment is not only inappropriate, but is hurtful for your dog.
Teach Your Kids How to Understand Dog Body Language
Dogs may understand verbal commands like “sit” or “stand” and respond accordingly. But, they cannot speak our language until we teach them. So, they communicate with us through body language. Getting a dog to understand us —and vice versa — may take more than just uttering audible cues while we are teaching them our language.
Reading their body language allows us to understand them. Teach your children that if they see their dog retreat to his bed or crate, for example, it might mean that he is tired. The dog might want to get some rest or even a nap.
When the dog tucks his tail or flattens his ears, it may signal nervousness. When this happens, instruct your kids to give the dog some space and avoid movements that the dog may perceive threatening. Tell your kids to keep their movements relaxed and slow; this can help the pooch calm down.
Teach Them to Respect Dogs
It is not uncommon for very young kids to see pets as moving stuffed toys. They are cute. They move, eat and respond to calls and commands. But even at an early age, kids must understand that pets are living creatures with needs and feelings.
Train your kids to let the dogs be when they need their sleep. Dogs get tired, and when they do, they go to their spot to get some rest. Tell them not to disturb the dog when he is sleeping. Dogs need their down time just like kids and parents do!
Some puppies may feel overwhelmed or uneasy if someone bothers them when close to their food. Teach your kids not to bother the dog when he is eating. The parents can acclimate the puppy to feel comfortable when someone is near his food if the puppy is nervous in the beginning.
Dogs might not be used to being held or kissed on the face when new to a household. Getting a dog used to this gesture of affection may take some time. Teach your kids to be gentle and avoid forceful or sudden contact as it might agitate or startle the pup.
Advice for Parents Before Getting a Dog
Before getting a dog for your kids, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry has a few pointers for parents. For a positive pet ownership experience, dogs, in this case, the AACAP encourages parents to:
· Choose an appropriate pet
Let’s talk about canine breeds and sizes. There are many kinds each with unique characteristics. Dogs have their own temperament, energy level and care requirements.
When selecting the best pet for your children, you should carefully consider these characteristics. It is imperative to the success of your kids’ dog-ownership journey. Some dog breeds are great with small kids, such as Retrievers and Maltese, as these are good-tempered, friendly and smart.
When getting a dog, bear in mind your kids’ ability to handle particular sizes. Children who are under ten years might not be able to look after big dogs. Others may do well with smaller breeds especially with limited living space.
· Monitor your kids’ behavior around the pet
Young children under four years of age don’t have the emotional maturity to recognize and control their impulses. Toddlers, for instance, may become unintentionally rough with the pets.
They may get frustrated or upset at times; and, they may take it out on their pup. The animal may react negatively to this which may result in an unwanted incident. Therefore, it is essential to monitor your kids’ behavior around the pup.
· Guide your kids with pet care
Kids will be kids. No matter how much you teach them about dog care, they may still not be able to pull off the responsibility on their own. This means that kids need constant guidance from adults when it comes to dog care.
However, like what Lady Bird Johnson once said, “Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them.” Give your children positive reinforcement by letting them know you trust their potential in becoming a loving and responsible fur parent to their dogs.
· Let your kids know what to expect if they neglect the pet
Just like people, pets need basic requirements like food, water and exercise to thrive. This is one of the things you must make sure that your kids understand before getting a dog.
What will happen if one day your kids stop giving the furry ones the care and attention they need? Would you consider finding a new home for them? It’s also crucial to discuss what to expect if they neglect their pet.
· Be a role model
There will be times when your children might become a bit lax with pup care. They may be tired or stressed with school. In this case, you may have to step up; but, resist scolding your kids with their shortcomings.
Be a role model with your children by showing them what responsible fur parenting entails. They will respond better when they see you demonstrating good parenting behavior rather than lecturing them. Make learning to become a good pet parent fun and interesting for your kids!
Planning on Getting a Dog Soon? Call Us for Professional Dog Training!
Having a pet sure entails responsibilities and some adjustments here and there. But, it sure is rewarding! We can help make having a dog around much easier for you by training your dog through the different training programs we offer. Contact us today, and let us discuss how we can bring out the best in your dog.