Teaching Kids Responsible Pet Ownership

I recently heard a piece of the local news about a father, whose two young children were pestering him to let them have their first pet kitten. He posted a picture of the kids on the social networking website Facebook, and told them that if they got 100 likes they could have their cat. Luckily for the youngsters, the posting went viral and a heart-warming number of people voted for them to get their pet. This little anecdote got me thinking: now that the family has welcomed a new pet into their home, what would be the best ways for the parents to teach their children about responsible pet care In this teachiblog, I offer my tips for any mum, dad or guardian whose kids want to have their own animal.

Parental Supervision

Children seem to be irresistibly attracted to the idea of owning a pet, and many will go to extreme lengths to make sure that they get one. Maybe you can remember being your kid's age and promising to mow the lawn every week during the summer, if only you could have a puppy of your own! "I'll Take Care of Everything My Pet Needs All by Myself ." is a phrase that is echoed all over the world, however if you do decide to go ahead with getting a pet, you must realize that even if your child takes some responsibility, overall the animal's welfare must be supervised by an adult. Remember that very small children should never be left alone with a pet, regardless of how trustworthy the animal is and how well-behaved the child.

Carrying Out Basic Care

Getting your youngster involved in the basic daily care of the family pet is an excellent way to teach them about the needs of the animal and why an owner must take responsibility for caring for these needs. Start a discussion with your child about what your pet needs and how similar it is to human requirements : fresh food and water, a clean place to eat, somewhere to go to the toilet, room to play and move, and quiet spaces to sleep. Depending on your child's age and ability, tasks like washing the pet's food dishes, grooming him or helping put his lead on for walkies will help to give them a sense of the responsibility of a pet owner. You can also explain to your child about using flea and tick control products like Frontline Plus to protect your pet from parasites.

Handling Pets

Teaching your child to handle their pets correctly so that they don't hurt them or frighten them is important from an early age. Explaining and demonstrating the correct way to stroke the cat or how to approach the dog will build the bond between your pet and your child. Teaching about animal body language is also useful and can go a long way to prevent the accidents that can occur when a child is over-friendly with a frightened cat or dog. You can also spend time showing your child the correct ways to discipline a pet without using aggression. Consider attending training classes as a family if you are unsure of the methods to use.

Why Is Rover Going To The Vets?

One thing that grown-ups will have to think about in terms of responsible pet ownership is getting the pet spayed or neutered (de-sexed). Of course, taking your youngster's pet away to the vet can be a bit frightening for the child, so it is important to reassure them about where the animal is going and why. Again, you know what your own child will be able to process and understand, so tailor your explanation to suit but do try to make it clear that your pet is going to have an operation so that it doesn't have unwanted babies. The number of homeless cats, dogs and guinea pigs in animal shelters is overwhelming and finding loving homes for them is very difficult, so it is best for your pet to have this safe and straightforward operation to avoid contributing to the problem. By tackling this issue in a mature way, you child will see that there is nothing to be afraid of, and as young pet owners, will hopefully will carry these lessons into adulthood.