Children and Dog

Rainy Day activities for kids and dogs

“It’s raining, it’s pouring, everything is boring!” Rainy days with stir-crazy kids and dogs can try your sanity. When your kids wail that there’s nothing fun to do, have them try some of these simple games with the family dog.

Hansel & Gretel Trails: This is a really basic activity, but kids love it! Give your children a small bowl of treats

Children and Dog

Rohan and Coco

and tell them to create a trail for the dog to follow. Keep the dog near you while the kids put a treat every 2 to 4 feet. When they have laid out the entire path, have them come back and tell the dog to sit before releasing the dog to follow the trail. They’ll follow along behind the dog cheering for each successful find.

Commando Crawl (for mid-sized dogs): Have the kids lay a trail of treats running under your coffee table from one end to the other. Teach the dog to belly-crawl across the floor to get the treats.

Dog Bowling: Arrange empty plastic two-liter bottles in a bowling triangle in the hallway and have the kids take turns calling the dog for a treat. Whoever gets the dog to topple the most pins as he races down the hall wins.

Tiny Teeter-Totter: Lay a piece of plywood on the floor. Have the kids give the dog treats for stepping on the board. Once the dog is not at all concerned about walking on the board, lay the board across a broom to make a two-inch high teeter-totter. Keep rewarding the dog for walking over the board. Remind the kids to keep their fingers away from the board while the dog is on it!

Rainy Day Come: Give each child a small cup of dog treats. Tell one child to go “hide” in the kitchen. At first the child won’t really hide, she’ll just stand in the center of the kitchen and call the dog. While the dog is trotting toward the kitchen, send another child to the dining room.

After the first child has had the dog sit to get a treat, the child in the dining room can call the dog . . . and while the dog is coming to the second child, the first child will head to the living room. When it’s her turn to call again, she’ll call and the dog will head for the kitchen only to find that she’s not there! While the dog looks for the first child, the second chooses a new spot.

As your dog gets better at this game, the kids can make it more challenging by standing behind doors or sitting in unusual places. The game is over when the kids are out of treats; then everyone can head to the kitchen for a cookie break.

Remember to use lots of treats to make these games as much fun for the dog as for the kids. The idea is to offer the children simple training opportunities in fun, easy-to-implement ways.

Don’t allow anyone to push or pull the dog to get him to do something. If the dog seems confused or resistant, look for ways to make the challenges easier. Watch for any signs of frustration—on either the kids’ or dog’s part—and step in right away to help.

Soon your kids will be hoping it rains more often.

(Colleen Pelar, CPDT, CDBC, is the author of Living with Kids and Dogs . . . Without Losing Your Mind. Since 1991, Colleen has been the go-to person for parents trying to navigate kid-and-dog issues. Because a knowledgeable adult can improve every interaction between a child and a dog, Colleen is committed to educating parents, children, and dog owners on kid-and-dog relationships.For more information, visit

Smart dogs for smart kids

Your dog is good for your kid for more reasons than you can think. Let’s see how.

Ever seen the twinkle in your child’s eyes when he sees a pup or a dog he likes? He wants to go close to him

Children and Dog

Smart dogs for smart kids

pet him and more often than not, would like to take him home. A pooch will give him a wealth of knowledge for day-to-day life.

We all know dog teaches our children emotions like compassion, responsibility and community awareness towards strays, besides giving them emotional support in times of need. They help children in more ways than we think.

Let’s see how our pooches help our kids have a more enriching life…

The tiny tots (0-2 years): Babies learn through senses – by seeing, hearing and touching. Their cognitive development improves when they are living with a pooch. They associate with them as friends and love to play with them, looking for them when they sit under the table or bed. Their motor skills improve as the pooches keep them on their toes.

The preschoolers (2-3 years): This is the age of learning – kids learn that they are responsible for their pet’s needs and start empathising with them.

The school-goers (3-14 years): When a child starts going to school, he faces the real world – classmates, teachers, etc. Sometimes, they are not able to tell everything to their parents – they start confiding in their pets as they are aware of their unconditional love and care. They become responsible towards their pets – taking care of their daily needs. Sometimes, even the loss of a pet can teach them the hard facts of life.

Few scientific facts…

Even science has proved that pooches enrich children’s lives. Let’s see how:

Dogs encourage reading habits in children: A lot of children are not comfortable reading aloud. By having a canine as an audience, children learn to read. They know that dogs will not judge them for their reading skills and they feel they are teaching it to the pooch, thus building their confidence in the long run. This concept was first used by a nurse named Martin, who is now a board member of Utah’s nonprofit Intermountain Therapy Animals, which runs the R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dogs) programme.

Dogs make children active and hence less obese: According to a research from St. Geroge’s University of London, children who have dogs at home are more active than those without dogs, thus helping them fight obesity, a rising issue of concern for parents.

Dogs help children with special needs: According to a new Université de Montreal study, specifically trained service dogs can help reduce anxiety and enhance socialisation skills of children suffering with Autism Syndrome Disorders (ASDs).

Health benefits: The researchers in Stanford University and the University of California, United States have found that pets can significantly reduce the risk of cancer, improve cardiovascular function, and enhance human immunity.

Towards safe dog-child interactions…

But it is important to teach children how to interact with dogs to prevent mishaps like dog bites, etc. Always have kids and dogs in supervision. Don’t let your child reach for an unknown dog. Teach them not to bother them while they are eating or sleeping. Never let your child bully them – teach them where your dog likes to be touched and when he needs to be left alone. Also, teach them the basic body language of a dog.

Teaching kids the importance of Hygiene and washing hands is a must. Most importantly, teach your child to respect the family pooch.

Let’s help our kids have a more fulfilling life with the love of a pooch!

Children an Dog

Striking the angelic bond!

Good kids and good dogs will have miscommunications every day. By teaching children and dogs how to interact with one another, we are laying the groundwork for happy, healthy relationships between them.

Kids and dogs: they go together like apple pie and vanilla ice cream or cookies and milk. Parents can do a lot to foster a strong, loving relationship. It’s simply a matter of education. We do the best we can with what we know. When we know more, we do better. Let’s do better!

Here are three steps for letting your child meet a dog

It is very important to teach kids how to interact with dogs they are interested in. Childish excitement could

Children and Dog

Striking the angelic bond!

be interpreted as a threat by inexperienced dogs.

Step 1: Ask the owner: Teach your kids never to rush up toward a dog. Tell them to stop about five feet away and ask the owner, “May I pet your dog?” Sometimes the answer will be ‘No’. Many dogs don’t live with kids and are not comfortable with them. So if the dog’s owner says ‘No’, that’s okay. Remind your kids that there are lots of other dogs who would love to be petted by them. If the pet parent says ‘Yes’, then the children must ask the dog.

Step 2: Ask the dog—do not skip this step! Have your children make a fist with the palm pointed down. Then they can slowly extend their arm for the dog to sniff their hand. Teaching the kids to curl their fingers in minimizes the risk of a dog nipping their finger. When the dog is being given the opportunity to sniff, watch his body language.

Does he come forward with loose, waggy motions? That’s definitely a ‘Yes’.

Does he lean forward for a quick sniff and seem comfortable? Also a ‘Yes’.

Does he turn his face away from your child’s hand? Back away? Bark? Move behind the owner? Look anxious and unsettled? Growl? These are all No’s.

Unfortunately some pet parents don’t understand or respect their dog’s decision and will drag the dog forward saying, “Oh, he’s fine. He loves kids. You can pet him.” DON’T! Do not ever allow your children to pet a dog who does not approach them willingly.

Step 3: Pet the dog: If the owner says ‘Yes’ and the dog says ‘Yes’, the kids can pet the dog. Tell your kids that they need to be careful of a dog’s sensitive eyes and ears. Most dogs don’t like to be petted on top of their heads, but nearly all people pet dogs this way—it’s a hardwired human behaviour. There is a blind spot on top of a dog’s head. If he sees your child’s hand moving toward that area, the natural inclination is for him to tilt his head up and watch where the hand is going. Now your child’s hand is reaching right over the dog’s teeth—not a very good place for that hand to be. Suggest that your children stroke the side of the dog’s neck, rub under his chin, scratch his chest, or pet along his back. Most dogs prefer slow, gentle strokes to rapid pat-pat-patting.

A parent’s guide to dog-bite prevention

The best barrier against the aggression is a strong social drive. When choosing a dog for your family, look for one who adores people, especially children. A dog who really enjoys kids will give your kids the benefit of the doubt when they step on his tail or fall over him. Even with the best supervision, there will be times when a child hurts a dog. One day, one of my sons kicked off his snow boot, which went flying down the hall and hit the dog. Fortunately for all of us, Gordo didn’t bat an eye.

I often see dogs who could be great family members with some support from the parents. Supervision, along with a basic understanding of dog behaviour, is the key. For example, here is something I bet you don’t know: Dogs don’t like hugs! Oh, I know, your dog loves when your kids hug him. While I believe that dogs can be taught to accept and, in a few cases, even welcome hugs, I also know that hugging is not a normal dog behaviour. Think about the last time you saw one dog “hug” another. It wasn’t a gesture of affection, was it? No, it was either mating or a dominance display. Do you really want your dog thinking your child is attempting either of those behaviours?

Children, especially preschoolers, rarely understand the concept of personal space. We parents need to be sure that our dogs get some downtime away from the kids. It’s wearing to have someone following you around all day, even if he means well. My kids know that if the dog goes in his crate, they cannot talk to him or pet him until he chooses to come back out. It gives the dog a private refuge where he’s not expected to be the local celebrity, the centre of attention.

Learning a bit about canine body language helps too. There is a set of behaviours—called calming signals—dogs display when they are stressed. These serve two purposes: they are an attempt at self-soothing, akin to thumb sucking, as well as a message to others that the dog would like the situation to defuse. Watchful parents can step in when they see their dog exhibiting these behaviours.

Lip licking—When a dog is a little anxious, he will often quickly stick out his tongue and lick his lips. It’s usually just a fast, little flick. Watch your dog; this is one of the most common signals I see.

Yawning—This is often mistaken for contentment. The dog is surrounded by kids, and he lets out a big yawn. Isn’t that sweet? Nope, it’s a sign that he’s in a little over his head and would appreciate your help.

Shaking off—We’ve all seen dogs shake off when they are wet, but this happens at other times too. Time to shake off and start over. It will happen right after something makes the dog uncomfortable, usually as he’s walking away.

Freezing—Watch out! Freezing is one step beyond a calming signal; it’s often a last-ditch attempt to tell you to back off. Dogs typically freeze right before they snap or bite. That may sound obvious, but one of the scariest things I ever saw was when a pet parent told me, “Lucy loves to have kids hug her. Look how still she is.” It was a heart-stopping moment for me. Lucy, thank goodness, did not bite, but she was definitely not enjoying the experience.

Spaying and neutering our pets helps too. Nearly 80 percent of dog bites come from intact males.

What to do when your child is afraid of dogs

Whenever Laura sees a dog, she shrieks and clings to her mother’s leg. Thomas runs the other way. And Samuel just freezes, wide eyed in terror.

Each of these children is afraid of dogs. As parents, we strive to teach our kids how to cope with life and its challenges. Yet some parents mistakenly believe that it is good for a child to be afraid of dogs because then the child will be more cautious around them. It doesn’t usually work that way. When children are frightened, they often run, scream and flail. These actions typically bring a dog closer, not keep it away.

The more you know about something, the less scary it becomes. Many kids are frightened because they don’t know what a dog will do next. Dogs communicate almost entirely through body language. A basic knowledge of body language can help kids to understand a dog’s intentions.

After you have a basic understanding of body language, start watching dogs from a distance. Park outside a pet supply store and talk about the dogs you see coming and going. Which ones look happy, which look frightened, which have been taught to walk nicely on a lead, which seem like old or young dogs?

When your child is very comfortable watching dogs at a distance, try introducing older, calm dogs to your child. Respect her fear and work at her own pace. Don’t try to rush or cajole her into doing more than she’s comfortable with.

Most children will reach out and touch a calm dog’s haunches if the owner turns the dog’s head away from the child. That’s an excellent first step. Talk with your child about how the dog’s fur feels. Ask her if she thinks other dogs’ fur would be softer or more rough. Get her thinking about that one dog as an individual. Ask the pet parent to talk about some of the dog’s favourite activities.

Work towards having your child gives the dog cues (with dog’s owner ensuring that the dog complies). Seeing a dog respond correctly to what she asks will help her feel safe.

It’s best for her to work steadily with one dog until she feels very comfortable before adding another. Once she has met and likes three calm adult dogs, begin thinking about introducing her to a puppy. Puppies are bouncy and outgoing, which can be unnerving for a tentative child. Again, let her start out at a distance, simply observing the puppy’s behaviour.

Take it slow. It’s much better to teach your child to be a skilled observer of animal behaviour than it is for her to be thrown into situations that frighten her. With patience and time, she will learn that there are many gentle, social dogs, and she’ll be able to interact safely and calmly with new dogs she meets. That’s far, far safer than having her remain afraid of all dogs.

On a concluding note…

It’s important not to blame kids for being kids or dogs for being dogs. Let’s be realistic; it’s impossible to control someone else’s behaviour 100 percent, be it dog or child. We parents can, however, teach dogs and kids to enjoy each other’s company more by building an understanding of each other’s behaviour—and in doing so, we will decrease that scary number of annual dog bites and help ensure that our children are not bitten.

(Colleen Pelar, CPDT, CDBC, is the author of Living with Kids and Dogs . . . Without Losing Your Mind. Since 1991,she has been the go-to person for parents trying to navigate kid-and-dog issues. Because a knowledgeable adult can improve every interaction between a child and a dog, Colleen is committed to educating parents, children, and dog owners on kid-and-dog relationships. For more information, visit

Woof! It’s pawrty time

Our beloved pets love to pawrty. Here are tail-wagging tips to organise pooch pawrties

Johnny blew out the candle and cut the cake, with his mommy holding his tiny paws. It’s Johnny’s birthday party and he is celebrating with his near and dear ones. Pet parties are becoming quite common these days. We all want our pooch to have a blast on his special day.

Why not throw a party to celebrate his achievements and share his happiness? Here are few tips to help you get the pawrty started.

Create customised canine cards

Invite the guests with uniquely designed invitation cards matching the theme of the event and that too designed by you. Paste a picture of your pooch on a colorful construction paper and write down his personal message for his barking buddies. It might take some time and effort to design the cards, but it is worth the effort considering the amount of fun you can have doing this.

Else, you can just paste a digital photo of your pet on a word processor and type out his message under this. Print multiple copies of this document and voila, your invitation cards are ready. To give it a canine touch, you can even paste some doggy designs like paw prints on this card. Just get wacky and use your creativity while designing your cards.

Decorate to dazzle doggies

Add funk and spirit to the party by decorating the party space. Add doggie touch to the ambience by using paw printed fabrics or fabrics with Dalmatian dots for screens and table cloths. You can design such fabrics yourself by painting paws or simple dots on plain fabrics using fabric paints. Hang dog paintings or pictures on the wall. Cut out a bone shaped cardboard piece and tie it to the dining chairs.

If you have an open space with a garden and hopefully a pool to add, your furry friends’ delight will be pawfect. Your furry guests will have a whole zipping across the garden and swimming in the pool. Just keep an eagle’s eye on all.

Get drool-worthy dogilicious delights

A pooch party would be incomplete without yummy food for the doggie guests (and the two-legged guests) to gorge on. Make sure you buy and keep stock of mouth-watering doggie food and treats (and some good food for the pet parents as well). Pet shops are offering wide variety of nutritious and delicious dog food these days including treats for special occasions like cakes and muffins for our furry members. You can also prepare some goodies at home by referring to doggie recipe books.

Yap! Yap! Let’s play & hop

No doubt your pooch will have an amazing time playing and mingling with other dogs during the party, you can make the party a lot more fun and entertaining for both pets and pet parents, by organizing some games and activities. Here are some amusing activities and games that can be played during the party:

  • Treat hunt: Hide dog treats and let the dogs hunt for the treats. The dog who sniffs out maximum number of treats wins the game. Keep a time limit and hit the buzzer when the time is up. You will need some volunteers to keep an eye on each dog and decide upon the winner of this game.
  • Toy collector: This is a team game with each team composed of the pet and pet parent. Each team would be given a bucket and some dog toys scattered on the floor. The pet parents have to get their pets to fetch the toys one by one, which they can drop in the bucket. The team that collects maximum number of toys in the bucket in a given time wins the game.
  • I say! You do!: This game tests how well the dog understands his pet parent and how well-trained the dog is. Create teams of pets and their parents. Each pet parent has to get the pet to perform simple actions like ‘Standing’, ‘Sitting’, ‘Fetching the ball’, ‘Rolling on the ground’ etc. The dog who performs most of these actions correctly will be considered the winner.
  • Fetching fido: This game can be played with a ball or a frisbee. The pet parents will throw a ball and ask their pets to fetch the ball. The pooch who fetches and hands over the ball to its owner first wins the game.
  • Mutt ‘n’ music: This game is like musical chair. The pet parents walk their dogs while the music is playing and get the dogs to sit when the music stops. The dog who sits the last gets eliminated. The process continues until there is only one team left that wins the game.

Bow wow!! Gifts I love

End the event by distributing awards to the four-legged guests. You can give awards like ‘The Prettiest Pooch’, ‘The Friendliest Dog’ and ‘The Most Mischievous Mutt’. Also announce the winners of the games and reward them with some gifts. You can also give small return gifts to all the four-legged guests for making the event a rocking one. Gifts can be anything like dog toys, dog treats, collar, leash, feeding bowl, dog bed, grooming products like doggie shampoo or pet shop gift coupons.

Use these ideas and come up with your own creative ideas to throw an awesome party for your pooch. You will be gifted in return with his priceless Bow Wows and loving licks.

Children and Dog

Your child & your pet: friends for life

For all those you are skeptical to keep your child and pet together, here comes the respite. You can nurture a beautiful bond between the two, which you all can cherish for life.

Children and Dog







A widespread concern amongst countless pet loving parents is the safety of their little children around the canine companions of the family. In fact, living with pets can account for some of the most valuable learning experiences in the growing up years of children. What it takes is only a little understanding of your pet’s and your child’s mind frame, along with a little effort to guide these mentalities towards the positive areas. And when these efforts begin to pay off, you would get to witness one of the purest and closest relationships to have flourished in your home.

How children benefit from pets?


  • Affectionate relationships with pets help in bringing down levels of stress and depression, which are much on the increase among children from all age groups and social backgrounds. A dog becomes a source of best confidante.
  • Positive feelings towards dogs and animals in general are also, in addition, known to be instrumental in developing positive self-esteem in children, along with other social virtues such as compassion, patience, nurturing and empathy. Pets play a significant role in the personality development process of a child.
  • Responsibility is perhaps the most important lesson that your child is likely to learn at a very young age by living with a pet dog.
  • Adopting a dog is no lesser than caring for a small baby. They both depend on us for food, shelter, love and care. The truth however is that once the attachment develops between the kid and the dog, feeding, walking, bathing, and grooming will no longer seem like work but a lot of funs. Encourage your child in helping you take care of the dog and praise him or her for the good work.
  • Further, the activities that your child would participate in while caring for the dog would help instil a sense of discipline and patience; luckily for you, at a fairly young age.
  • Pets have their own specific time slots fixed for walking, feeding and sleeping and tend to follow the set schedule consistently. Your child then, having been explained this by you, would have to be particular about following the schedule.In addition, by being occupied by these activities, your child is also likely to spend lesser time watching television or playing video games. Isn’t that something to cheer about!?
  • A pet around the house also helps the couple who are expecting their second. Small children tend to feel insecure and depressed at the arrival of a new baby brother or sister in the family. However, having learnt how to spend loving and fun time with the house pet, such life transitions can become easier for your child. It would also teach your child a very important lesson of sharing.
  • For those who fear your child’s health merely due to the existence of a pet in the house, it is interesting to know findings of research, which report that, children who have pets at home have a stronger immune system than those living without pets. The reason stated is children run less risk of being sensitive to allergens.
  • Games/training sessions teach the child about goals/objectives and achieving success in it helps improve their confidence and makes them focussed too.
  • According to a new Swedish study, children can improve their reading skills by practicing reading aloud to their dogs.
  • Since dogs communicate by their body language a child can thus learn to understand and read non-verbal communication.
  • Needless to say a dog helps a child remain fit and active.
  • Children also learn to cope with emotional issues and life’s upheavals better.
  • A child learns to trust, be a good listener, learns to focus not only on self but also on people around. Most importantly, a child gets a sense of security with a friend who is truly his.
  • A child can also learn beautiful aspects from a dog’s personality: be enthusiastic, express your feelings, have perseverance (specially when he wants a treat!), enjoy small moments of life, look for opportunities and be a friend, live in harmony with nature, Live & Let Live!

There is no denying that the busy schedules of parents these days leave them little time to spend with their children. Why not make that available time quality-time? And what better than to have some fun with your kid while walking, training, feeding, bathing, playing and planning for your canine friend—all of you together as one healthy happy family!

Establishing the fact that adopting pets can be more beneficial than harmful for your child, we imply again that kids and pets can get along famously.

Fostering a beautiful bond between a child and a pet

You, as parents, can help in building a safe and loving relationship between your dog and your child. To achieve this, it will be useful to follow certain basic guidelines or rules, the application of which will ensure a great start for both your child and pet, while they love and enjoy each other’s company:

Basic obedience – a must: Make sure that your dog is well trained and well socialized. Basic obedience skills should be well established in your pet, by which, commands such as ‘sit,’ ‘stand,’ ‘stay’ and ‘no’ are obeyed consistently. This will enable a better relationship with your pet.

Your child– his little pet parent: Try to transfer responsibility of the pet over to your child but under your supervision always. This can be accomplished by letting your child actively participate in all the activities associated with your pet, including walking him, feeding, playing ‘catch the ball,’ etc. He would realize that the child means to take good care of him and will reciprocate in kind gestures. Also divide duties according to the age of your child.

Your pet needs to be respected: Teach your child that pets are not toys, but living beings who have feelings and experience pain. Some children resort to cruel ways of playing, which is totally unacceptable. Teach them to be kind and gentle.

Touching the right way: Teach your child how to stroke a pet gently and lovingly. Show him or her how to touch which body part appropriately and make clear which parts the pet would not like to be touched at. In this way, you would help in making interactions between your pet and your child, loving, fun and pleasurable.

Don’t let your dog chase your child: Your child must be made to learn that he or she must never run in front of a dog or try to run away from a dog. The reason being that dogs are instinctive hunters and tend to instinctively start chasing anything that runs in front of them, owing to the creation of a predator/prey instinct.

Giving space: Give your pet his own exclusive space in the house. If your dog does not have a corner or a bed for himself, it is advisable to create one. It is important, in addition, that your child respects the space given to the dog and does not disturb him while he is enjoying that space. Animals, like all humans, also need their own personal space and time. If they are deprived of it, they are likely to compete for it. Children, being the smallest in size in the family, tend to be looked at as the easiest competition for your pet. Also ensure when your child’s friends are over, your dog is not disturbed and is at ease.

Respecting possessive nature: If there are certain things that your pet is extra-possessive about and tends to protect from others, it is wise to keep your child away from those things. These might include some toys, food, his bed, etc. Your pet is likely to become aggressive at the time he feels insecure regarding his prized possession, perhaps thinking that it might be snatched away. Teach children not to trouble a dog while eating/sleeping and never to snatch a toy away from him.

Encouraging good hygiene: Encourage good hygiene in your child, especially when it comes to interacting with your pets. Ensure that your child washes his or her hands regularly, especially before eating anything, since a lot of his or her activities in the house will involve touching the pet or something that belongs to him.

Behavioural training – a must: If your pet displays certain behavioral problems, such as becoming aggressive at situations, resisting obedience training, being excessively disobedient, throwing tantrums, showing excessive fear of some situations or people etc., deal with them at the earliest. It is advisable to consult a veterinary doctor or a behaviour therapist to diagnose the cause behind the problems and further find solutions to them.

Your guidance and supervision – very important: You must take the initiative in caring for your pet and encourage your child to actively participate in doing so too, of course under your supervision and guidance.Under your guidance enjoy this beautiful bond!

Little Pet Parents

The way you teach kids to treat your pet is going to reflect on how he will interact with his peers, environment, family and eventually reflect on his life. Iwas really overwhelmed with joy when a family friend of mine adopted a pet. The kids were excited and the parents jubilant. I was happy for the family, and more so for the dog that he had finally found a nice loving home. And so you can imagine my shock when a few months later I heard that they had returned the dog to breeder, because they realised they could not handle the responsibility of the dog 24×7. I felt sorry for the dog who had to start all over again after having found a home. And when I asked the parents about it, they said the dog care was getting too demanding and they could not cope with doing all the work, something which the kids had promised they would take care of.

After returning from their house I could not help wondering if the irresponsible kids were to be blamed or was it really the parents at fault, since they had failed in teaching their kids to be responsible for the pet. Many kids beg their parents to get a dog home, with unlimited promises to take care of them on their own. But once the novelty wears off, they forget all about their dog and push the dogs ‘conveniently’ out of their lives and routine. What they don’t realise is that their pet is a living being – who has feelings, who cares and can be really heartbroken if he is thrown out of his parents’ lives and home.

Sharing and delegating the responsibilities

Ideally, before getting a dog home, parents should sit down and talk about who will take on what responsibility once the pet comes home. The kids should know that getting a pet home entails lots of responsibilities such as regular walks, feeding him on time, his protection, treating him right, playing with him and giving him ample exercise, etc.

Parents should make a list of the responsibilities that the kids are going to take care of. It’s best to give your kids the easy chores such as taking a dog out for a walk at least once a day, to begin with. They could also opt for feeding him once in a day or filling his water bowl, or playing with him in the evening, etc. Some parents just make the kids responsible for “reminding” their parents that the dog needs to be fed, taken out or just play.

But whatever it is, it’s imperative to make sure that they stick to their promises. Most parents make the mistake of taking over the kids’ promised chores without reprimanding them for it. Kids on their part, are much too happy to pass on their responsibility and in the long run, learn to take everything easy in life. They need to know that if they don’t take care of their allotted duties, no one else will.

And at all costs, sending the dog away should be ruled out. You are not only setting the worst possible example for your child, you are also teaching him to take relationships, responsibilities and attitude towards dogs most casually and callously.

Bonding kids and pups

The more time the kid spends with him, the more he will be able to understand and relate to him. In such cases, the parents need to hear carefully and acknowledge every time your child says something about his dog. Pay heed to what your child is saying, since he has come to the conclusion after having spent a lot of quality time with the pet.

Teaching good manners

Believe it or not, it is very important that your kids behave properly with pets. It is important for parents to teach them to always treat their pet with love and respect. Also, allow your kids to teach the pets some good manners, such as not picking food from the table, not tearing clothes, et al. This will make him feel like an adult and accountable for any bad behaviour of the dog. When the child teaches him to shake his paw, get up, and fold his paws and other tricks and is showered with praises for it, not only does it make him proud of his pet, but also makes him more responsible.

Play & exercise together

Teach him the catch game and make sure your kid goes out to play with the dog in the evening, even if it’s for a short time. It will prove beneficial for the health of your child and will also teach him to be responsible for your dog’s health. What’s more, let him take care of his exercise and play. If possible, make sure the kid and the dog have ample fun times together. The more they play together, the more responsible they feel towards their four-legged darlings.

Teaching compassion

Many times, kids tend to be careless with the pets because they can’t believe that the pets go through the same pain and trauma that they do, they will learn to handle their pets with more love and care than ever before. So, it’s a good idea to make sure your kid accompanies you to the vet. It will make him feel liable for his safety and health too. And there is no better way to teach kids to be better humans than to show them to love other living beings the way we are loved. Getting a pet for the right reasons and committing to his well being as a family member will turn out to be the best decision that you took for your child. It will not only teach him how to be more responsible towards his pet and to life in general, but he will also be bestowed with the most loving, loyal and adorable of all companions in the world – for whom your child – and he alone – is his whole world!!!

Pawspective: What Childrens feel about their pets

Dogs and children together are often showed in an obviously trusting and loving relationship. This relationship has also been honoured in children’s literature, ranging from Lassie to Peter Pan, and generations have grown up not only having experienced wonderful times with childhood pets, but wishing their own children to have the same experience and, with a few simple considerations, they will.

Dogs can provide children with companionship and loyal friendship and in return children can provide their dog with affection and endless opportunities for activity and interaction. A family dog plays a key role in a child’s formative years, teaching him responsibility, besides developing nurturing and caring skills. Children with pets also generally have higher self-esteem and better social skills. Birthday parties, holidays, treats… children pamper their four-legged friend to the paws. But they are also aware of what are the important requirements for their pet. They might forget to take their own medicine but will remember Simba’s doctor appointment for sure.

When we interacted with few children about a feature on their relationship with their pet dog, there was immense excitement. One common request that we had from all these children was that Bollywood film industry should stop dog baiting insults and warned that wag-a-bon-ders like them might set their hounds loose. So scriptwriters beware, the younger generation is much better turned out than we might have expected.

D&P : What do you feel about animals and who do you like most? What do you learn from pets and how do you take care of them?
Sahil (Std 7, Sanskriti School): Animals have a very different world of their own. If you want to see what nature and power is, you have to understand the brilliant instincts of the animal world first. I had different kinds of pet but I like dogs most and especially my pet buddy Burney. He is totally my responsibility. My previous pet – a GSD Zaious – taught me what it involves in keeping a pet. It is not just about having a lovely expensive breed with who you can play with and then you completely forget him the next moment. I pay special attention to him since he cannot express his feelings. Burney listens to me and tries to read my mood and behaves accordingly. We get along like a house on fire. Sometimes when I am studying and he wants to play, he would come near me and try to show that we should actually go out and not sit at one place and get bored.
Having pets is a full-time responsibility and commitment to give them a great life. I know how to give basic first aid to an injured animal as I am a member of  Friendicoes and I do whatever little I can. I have 11 stray puppies at my farmhouse. I wish all of us
could give every needy dog a home. Animals are great companions and it’s just superb having and getting to know them. All animals have moods and we should always look out to listen to them since they cannot talk in our language. If they are unhappy, we should always try to find out what’s wrong with them. I wish I could have a lot of dogs around me but I am happy that I have Burney and I am being able to give him all my care, love and attention.

D&P : What is the importance of pets in your life?
Sunny (Std. 9, GD Birla): I have four Rottweilers and one Dachshund at home. It’s just too amusing to see a huge and a tiny dog together. What I admire about dogs is that they are honest with you and let you know their feelings. They never hurt or are ignorant to your feelings. I feel they have an extraordinary power of understanding, just like God. They just seem to know it all. They are great fun, and you can spend hours and hours with them, without getting bored. They will follow you from room to room, always doing what you are doing.  This four-legged friend is a true companion. My dogs are my family and most important for my life.

D&P: Do you love pets? Which pet animals do you like the best?
Kirat Gulati (Std 3, Ryan International): I am born and brought up amidst a lot of funny and cute Pugs and I can proudly say that I have company of four wonderful Pugs 24×7. They are Yoda, Figaro, Shasmo & Paris, of which Figaro is my favourite. I also love fish and have them at my home but my dogs are my actual friends. My Pugs think that I am the best and with them around, I can just spend hours indoor. They are my best friends and give me unconditional love. My friends are really envious of me since most of them want to keep pets but their parents don’t allow them to. It so happens that my entire family loves dogs.
I feel very sad for the stray dogs and I wish I could get all of  them home and give them a  healthy life like my Pugs.

D&P: How concerned are you about your pet animals? Do they form an integral part of your life? Do you always have time for them?
Abhishek Swarup (Std 10, Pathways World School): I had my first pet in 2000, which was a Golden Retriever. In 2003, we got our second pet and that was just the beginning and today I have as many as 12 dogs. They are Boxer (Brindle), Labradors (Mr. Black and Mr. Brown), Cocker Spaniel
(Mr. Patch), Pug (Oscar), St. Bernard (Lord Saint),
Great Danes (Lord Alexander and Lord Napoleon), German Shepherds (Caesar and Kaiser) and Golden Retriever (Mr. Gold). I have gathered a lot of knowledge about their health and diet. My whole family loves them immensely.
We keep a track of their medical records and all of them are looked after properly with utmost care. They never let us feel lonely. When my mom is not there, they take care of me just like she would. Watching them basking in the sun or playing around with each other is so “cool” because the amount of love they generate is amazing. We love them to the core and ensure all their needs are met.
Pets tell me a way of life  and have made me a better person.

Guidelines for introducing dogs and children

There are a few things parents need to know and do before they bring a new child into a household where a dog lives. Similarly, it is equally important to follow certain guidelines to bring a new dog into a home with children. Here are a few of those things. 

Introducing new children into a house containing a dog:

  • Ideally, the dog should have been socialised to children as a puppy.
  • The dog should be responsive to you and readily obey basic commands (e.g. sit, come etc.).
  • Your routine with the dog should be modified in anticipation of the arrival of a new child. If the dog is used to spending all of his time with the owner, this should gradually be reduced so that no sudden reduction occurs when the child arrives.
  • As soon as a new baby arrives, dogs should be rewarded (with food or praise) when in his presence so that they come to associate the presence of the child with pleasure. Shutting the dog away or shouting at him whenever the baby appears may lead to the dog perceiving the child as a negative experience.
  • Aspects of canine health care such as worming and control of other parasites should be a routine part of responsible dog ownership. However, care must be taken to ensure that this is not overlooked with all the new activities associated with the arrival of a new child.
  • In the interest of both, a dog and a young child should never be left alone without supervision.
  • Before the baby arrives, get the dog accustomed to child-like playing. The dog should be rewarded for accepting this contact. It will also be beneficial if other children can be encouraged to handle the dog while rewarding him with food or praise.
  • The dog should be taught not to snatch food or toys from your hand but only to take these objects gently after being told to do so. Practicing with the help of other children when training is complete will be beneficial as it will teach the dog not to steal food or toys from young children.

Introducing new dogs into a household containing children:

  • If a puppy is chosen, you should ensure that he is young enough to be socialised to children, or has had positive experience of children in the breeder’s home.
  • If an older dog is obtained, his response to children should be assessed prior to getting him into the family. This is particularly important at feeding occasions or when in possession of a toy. Some dogs who are not accustomed to the presence of children may respond in a fearful or threatening way on these occasions.
  • Children should be educated in the responsibilities of pet ownership for example, that pets are not toys, and can feel pain if roughly handled.
  • Children should be encouraged to take part in activities with dogs that are appropriate to the child’s age. For example, a four-year-old child can assist their parent in the preparation and presentation of food.
  • At an appropriate age, children should be encouraged to train dogs in appropriate obedience activities such as sitting and coming when called. These activities serve to teach dogs that children are higher in the social hierarchy.


Children and dogs : friends for life

Keeping a pet dog can enrich children’s life and help them build a sense of self-esteem and responsibility and develop diversified interests.

Friends for life
Children love to live and play with dogs by nature. They tend to treat pets as their closest friends, or even as their brothers and sisters. They like to play with pets, share their secrets with them and find comfort and consolidation in them. Besides, pet dogs make children feel secure in their life.

Many children with a pet have this similar experience: when they have received unjust treatment from others, they would rather retreat to their pets to pull out their sufferings and obtain comfort from the latter. Pets have become a most valuable source of confidence and friendship for children. That is why we often hear children to say: “My dog is my best friend”. Psychologists attribute the close relationship between children and pets to the “non-discriminating faith” on the part of pets. Pets will offer their unconditional love and care for their little owners, no matter how they have performed at the school or whether they have done something wrong. When children meet with any troubles or defeats, their pets will help them recover from psychological injuries and regain confidence.

Pets provide many learning opportunities for children
Children learn many things about natural sciences, life sciences in particular, when they live together with a pet. They learn important things about mother nature and life itself through interacting with pets. For example, they get exposed to the cycle of birth, growth and reproduction and they learn various little behavioural lessons by watching their pets responses and reactions. Pets serve as an encyclopaedia to younger children. Through playing with, feeding, training and caring for pets, children become aware of all the happy as well as tough moments that one experiences during growth, and  thus learns to respect all life forms.

Pet ownership helps children get more socially integrated
When you observe children playing with their pets you see how excited and enthusiastic they look. This is more than enough to realise the importance of pets in children’s social life; by giving more confidence to those who are withdrawn and also because children with pets have more chances to make new friends . Pets can also create more opportunities for family members to communicate with each other. By helping little ones taking care of pets, adult members in a family may share with their kids the happiness brought up by pet ownership. Pets, therefore, can serve as the “goodwill ambassador” in a household.

A recent study on pet ownership by children by researchers in Cambridge University finds out that the more pets a child keeps, the greater communication capacity the child will have. Their findings also point out that pet ownership is conducive to creating a more harmonious family environment between parents and their children.

A happy childhood is important for a child to grow into a responsible citizen. Keeping a pet helps children develop a rounded personality by bringing them a happier and more fun filled life and teaches them about love and care for their family, society and nature.