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.
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!