If you got children at home, you probably have a pet or two as well. If not, your little one may have been bugging you for one for his birthday or Christmas or any other occasion there is. The wish often comes with a slew of pet-loving promises. Reluctant parents, of course, know that responsible pet ownership is not easy. But this can also be a starting point for kids to learn various life skills. So, follow these tips instead to mould them into admirable tiny pet parents.
Encourage Your Child to Read Pet Books
Like learning about healthy pregnancy or food allergies, research can be good for your budding pet parents. So, motivate your children to know random facts about the animals they want to have as pets. You can look for e-books online that your child can read, or perhaps take him to libraries with pet care books.
For younger kids who cannot read yet, pet videos are excellent alternatives. You can download the interactive Pet Town learning tool, too. With their sharp and retentive memory, they’ll be able to apply their learning with ease.
Consider Pet Sitting
Before diving into the whole adoption process, you need to gauge if your child is ready to have pets around. You can probably ask your neighbours with birds or cats at home to help you out on this one. They can educate your kid about responsible pet ownership by showing them how to feed or clean animals.
Pet care may be a bit too much for toddlers, though. But they can tag along when walking the puppy or help out when refilling the water bowl. For school-aged children, you can ask them to make a pet-sitting schedule. Let them figure out how they can squeeze grooming, feeding and walking tasks into their daily activities.
This educational experience can help kids of any age realise that being responsible pet owners need commitment. When you do this step, make sure to talk to your little ones and ask them about their pet-sitting day. Ask them if they enjoyed it or if they encountered any difficulty doing pet tasks. Their answers will help you assess their preparedness for having a pet of their own.
Teach Your Child How to be Gentle and Calm
Your kids must also learn proper behaviour as part of their responsible pet ownership training. Explain to them that jumping around, screaming or making sudden movements can startle animals and hurt themselves or others in the process. One way to convey this to them is to describe how people, at times, react when confused or threatened. Let them know that animals feel and act the same way.
Gentle pet handling skills are also equally important. You can teach this by having a scheduled petting session. Choose a time when your child is calmer, like in the morning, for example. Then show him by example how to touch, hold and carry a pet. Explain to him that grabbing animals by their tails or ears can hurt them.
Include the Kids when Picking Out a Pet
Bringing home a pet you’ve selected yourself makes the whole process less complicated, of course. But if you include the kids from start to finish, they’ll understand what it’s like to be a responsible pet owner even more. After their initial pet exposure and training, they are more likely to pick the pet they know they can confidently handle, too.
During adoption, your child gets to meet the foster pet counsellors or breeders as well. Their tips and advice will help your little one and further stress his role as a pet owner.
Let the Kids Help Prep the Pet Bedroom
Before taking your chosen pet home, it will be good to ask the kids to help prep the house. For example, they can pick the perfect spot where their pet will sleep. Ideally, let them choose any area other than your kids’ bedroom. A neutral territory will prevent sibling fights and sleep distraction. Take them to the pet store, too, when selecting a bed, leash, toy or grooming tools. Make sure to stock up on the proper pet food as well.
Have the Kids Tag Along during Vet Time
Responsible pet ownership naturally requires routine visits to the vet. Whenever possible, schedule them when the kids can come with you. It will be good for them to meet their pet’s doctor and observe how he performs a physical examination or vaccination. The experience will show your kids that animal care needs doctors, too. It might even help them understand why they need to eat healthily or get their vaccine shots!
Assign Pet Care Duties
Giving kids pet care duties is like assigning them age-appropriate chores. You can do this by creating a chart or checklist. Make sure they can do their assigned tasks to keep them motivated. They must stay safe when doing them, too. So, take care of dog walking or litter box cleaning for now until your kids are ready. With duly distributed responsibilities, you’re teaching them that responsible pet ownership is not only hard work. It’s also teamwork!