I am of the opinion that every family can benefit from owning a pet. Both dogs and cats can make a wonderful addition to your family, providing hours of entertainment, companionship and fun. Recent studies have also shown that having a pet can teach your kid empathy, will get them moving and exercising, and provide alternatives to spending hours in front of the TV or gaming console.
That being said, before making the decision to adopt a pet, make sure that you can handle the added work that introducing a pet into your family brings, especially if you have young children, babies or have children with special needs.
If you have considered the extra work and training needs that a pet will need and feel like you and your family can handle it properly, there are a few factors you should consider BEFORE calling up the breeder or visiting your local shelter. The most important is to research and find a breed that is good with kids. Some breeds may be adorably cute, but simply do not tolerate children’s antics well and will snip or bite when bothered or run the other way when children are in sight. Others love the energy that children offer and tolerate tail and ear pulling a little easier. If adopting a pet from a shelter, be sure to tell them that you have children and ask them to recommend a pet with a good temperament.
Another factor to consider beforehand is whether your child has any pet allergies. If you’re not sure, take your child to visit a friend’s dog or cat or to a pet shelter. If you notice your child wheezing, sneezing or having running eyes, consider getting a pet that is hypo-allergenic. Poodles and poodle mixes, such a labrodooeles and goldendoodles are popular choices for children who are allergic to pets.
Once you settle on a breed, the next step is to decide how you will train your pet from the get go. Your children should be involved in any training exercises so they can reinforce the training instead of undoing it. They should be aware of what behavior is not allowed and be taught how to correct it. Many pet stores offer a variety of dog training classes. The benefit of taking your puppy to a class is that you will learn the right way to teach them various behaviors and you socialize your dog to other dogs.
Remember that, both for the safety of the pet and the child, a pet should never be left alone with young children, no matter how nice or well behaved they are. So have a plan in place for what you will do during times that are confusing and when your pet will likely not be properly overseen, such as mealtimes, times when the kids are fussy and other times when things are hectic and confusing. One of the best and easiest solutions is to crate your pet when you need to calm things down or if you cannot focus on their training. A dog crate can be valuable piece of pet gear to have before you bring your new dog home with you. Pet gates work well too. Just cordon off an area of your home with a dog gate or pet and where your pet cannot get in the way or get into trouble.
You can also use a dog cot, pet hammock, rug or carpet and teach your puppy the “place” and “stay” command. Whenever you need them out of the way, have your pet go to his or her place and tell them to stay.
Pets and children can be great companions, but getting them off to the right start is key to teaching your kids respect for their pets and establishing life long relationships.
Photo: flickr.com/photos/78428166@N00/7264341934/Filed under Kid Activities, Parenting Information | Comment (0)