Teaching children the responsibility of caring for pets – Part 4

Pets are a wonderful addition to any home. They bring comfort when you are down and increase your joy when you need a playmate. Unfortunately, even the most dedicated pet lovers sometimes have a hard time impressing the importance of pet care and maintenance on their children. Getting your children to be responsible pet owners can be a challenge, but the following tips can help you take the first steps.

Relinquish Ownership

Children are more likely to want to help out with things that belong to them. Rather than referring to your pets as “family pets”, let your child feel a sense of ownership. Ask, “Did you feed your cat today?” or “Did you give your dog a bath?” This will increase your child’s connection to the pet as something that they have a special tie to, not just another chore in the house.

Decision Making

Although there is a lot of work involved in taking care of an animal, there is a fun side too. Letting your child take an active role in both will strengthen their desire to be part of their pet’s daily routine. If the pet is new to your household, let your child name it. You may end up with a cat named Fluffy Butter-paws, but your child will take pride in being a part of something so integral to their pet’s life.

All pets need a certain amount of training. Let your child decide what fun tricks should be taught to their pet and have them play an active role in obedience training as well. Putting an emphasis on rewarding good behavior using affection and treats will help strengthen the bond of trust between your child and their pet.

Co-Dependence is Key

Once your child begins to develop a relationship with their pet, you can begin impressing on them the mutual care that comes with the relationship. Point out that when the dog learns a command, or the cat wants to cuddle it is a sign of love and respect from that animal. Emphasize that this love comes from the love and care that is given to that animal. The better care you take of your pet, the better care they will take of you.

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