Whether you’re purchasing a purebred puppy from a responsible breeder or adopting a loveable mutt from a rescue centre, there’s no denying that opening your home and your heart to a dog will change your life forever.
Dogs are man’s best friend; they will not only protect you and offer you all the love that their hearts can give; they’ll also teach you a lot about life, too. A dog can cheer you up in minutes at the end of a long day because no matter what, they are always going to be super happy to see you. After all, you are their special human!
When you’ve got kids, a dog doesn’t just provide lifelong friendship and love, but can also be an excellent way to teach responsibility. The family dog can’t just go without food or spend days cooped up inside because nobody feels like looking after him. It’s simply got to be done.
Here are some of the best lessons about responsibility that your dog can teach your little ones.
Being Kind to Others:
Interacting with a puppy or dog can teach your children a lot about having empathy and treating others right. They are going to see how your dog has feelings too, and how she displays a range of emotions including when she is:
For example, when you get a new puppy, she is likely going to be scared and overwhelmed by her new surroundings. You can use this situation to have your children imagine how they would feel if they were suddenly in a new home on their own, and to treat your puppy how they would like to be treated; with love and care.
And they can watch out for your puppy’s cues when playing. She will quickly let them know when she is excited to play, or when she isn’t really in the mood for it.
Doing Jobs We Don’t Really Like:
Doing chores and jobs that we don’t particularly enjoy is all part of life, and having a puppy or dog is a great way to teach your children about this, and help them understand the importance of getting those unenjoyable chores done – and the satisfaction that comes afterwards.
Picking up poop, for example, is something that nobody is going to get excited about – but when you’re a responsible dog owner, you must do it every day. You can explain to your children why it’s so important to keep the garden safe and tidy by picking up your puppy’s mess after each time she does her business outside, and why it’s essential to take poop bags on a walk to keep the local roads and parks clean, too.
Being a Responsible Pet Owner:
Maybe your children will grow up to have pets of their own – and as kids, you can teach them a lot about being a responsible pet owner when you have a dog at home. Along with setting a good example, get your little ones involved with all the regular chores and responsibilities that come along with having a dog.
You might want to set a feeding timetable, for example, where everybody must take turns to ensure that your dog has the right amount of food and fresh water available to them. This will help your children get into good habits when it comes to looking after their pet, and help them understand the importance of making sure that their pet is fed and cared for, even if they are busy, tired or sick.
The responsibility of caring for a pet is a huge one; the sooner your kids have a solid understanding of this, the better. Also, as a responsible owner, you should never leave a pet alone with young children.
Being Responsible with Health:
When you have a dog, you’re also responsible for keeping them in good health. Teaching your children about this will not only help them become better pet owners in the future, but may also encourage them to be more responsible with their own health. You can teach your kids about:
- Making sure your dog doesn’t eat anything bad for them: Explain what happens if your dog eats chocolate or another poisonous food, and how nasty the experience will be for the family pet. Make sure that your children know exactly what foods your dog can and cannot have, and why.
- The importance of vaccinations: Taking your puppy for her first vaccinations can be a great time to teach your kids about the importance of vaccines, and even tell them about why they have their own. If your dog is unvaccinated, they will be at risk of catching nasty diseases, or passing illnesses on to other dogs in the neighbourhood.
- The importance of insurance: Explain how pet insurance works and why it’s important for your dog to have it. You can give your kids a scenario to think about – for example, your dog gets injured when playing in the park, and tell them how pet cover may help to make sure that they get the right treatment so that they can get back to normal again. Get your child involved by looking at pet insurance quotes together on sites like Everypaw.
- Neutering and spaying: This can be a good opportunity to talk about the ‘birds and the bees’ with your children. Explain where puppies come from and what might happen if your dog is not spayed or neutered.
Friendship and Love:
Finally, one of the biggest gifts that your family dog can give to your children is that of friendship and love. Anybody who’s got a dog will know that they are your best friend forever. As they grow up with a dog in the home, your child will learn more about what being a good friend means when your dog is always there for them when they are tired, irritable or feeling sad. And with that kind of unconditional love, they won’t be able to help but do the same back for their precious pooch.
Getting a puppy or a dog for your family is a massive step. If you’re ready for it, it can teach your kids a huge amount of responsibility.