Caring for a puppy can take a lot of work – this is something that the entire family should be involved in and if you have children, you need to teach them proper puppy care. As soon as puppies come into the house, they learn from children, and everyone else. We’ve heard of kids promising the world in order to get a puppy, but once you have the puppy in your home, it can be a challenge to get them to follow through with their pet-care chores once the “new puppy” syndrome wears off. Today, we are going to tell you how to teach kids proper puppy care.
Start with a List
Sit down and make a list of all of the responsibilities involving the new puppy and pick the ones that you feel they can handle. It’s best that you choose an easy daily chore to start with. Speak with them children and tell them why the chore is important – tell them what could happen if they don’t do it. For example, if their chore is to feed the dog every day, explain to them that if they do not feed the dog, he will get hungry. Make sure every family member participates in the chores from your list, and rotate those chores on a weekly basis. Also, remember that you are their role model – children will observe your behavior and learn responsible pet-care through you.
Give praise where praise should be given. Every time your children do what they’re supposed to do without you having to remind them, make sure you praise them. A good reward would be to do some type of fun pet activity, like going for a walk in the park with the dog. By positively reinforcing this behavior, the chances of it reoccurring will increase.
On another note, you should avoid associating pet responsibilities with rewards and punishments if they’re not related to the dog itself. For example, let’s say your child brings home a bad grade on a spelling test, you don’t want to take away their playtime with the pet, or give them an extra pet chore as a form of punishment because this can add frustration.
Introduce New Things
To make sure your child continues to interact with the new puppy, make sure you introduce new toys, games and even training – this will add motivation. It would be a good idea to encourage your little ones to learn about the puppy as much as possible.
Age Appropriate Chores
When you’re making out that list of puppy chores for your little ones, it is important that you take their age in consideration. Here’s something to help you out:
Ages 2 to 5
Note: If you have little ones that are between the ages of 2 to 6, then you need to watch over them when they’re around the puppy.
Cage Maintenance – If you’re crate training the puppy, then you could have the children help with cage maintenance. This involves doing tasks like lining the bottom of the crate with newspaper.
Toys – Another age appropriate chore for 2-5 year olds involves picking up and putting the pet toys where they go. We recommend getting your dog his own toy box to store his toys.
Food and Water – Your little ones can help put water in the dogs bowl. You should be the one to put the food in their bowls, though, because dogs have a tendency to get excited when they see food and may accidentally nip the little ones tiny fingers.
Clean Pet Dishes – Cleaning and putting away pet dishes is another good chore your little ones can help with.
Ages 6 to 10
For ages 6 to 10, you can add a little bit more chores to the list, including:
Grooming – They can help with grooming, brushing and bathing the dog.
Walking – Depending on the size of the dog, the little ones may now be able to help with walking, but with your supervision.
Pet Droppings – From time to time, accidents are going to happen, especially with a new puppy. Your little ones can help clean up the pet droppings.
Ages 10 and Above
At the age of 10 and up, children can take on all chores, but they may still need some supervision if you have a dog that is very large in size.
- Children can actively assume all aspects of pet care unless you have a very large dog.
When the Dog is Eating
When the dog is eating, you need to teach your kids to leave him alone. Think about it – when you’re sitting there at the dinner table and someone comes along and starts pulling on you and tickling you, how are you going to react? Most likely, you’ll feel angry and upset. Dogs are no different. For this reason, you need to teach your children to stay away from the dog while he’s eating.
Don’t Touch the Dogs Face
We have all seen news articles where children were attacked by the dog, and we’re quick to cast judgment towards the dog. However, what many do not realize is that many of those attacks could have been prevented. Children have a tendency to tug on the pets ears or poke the dog in the face – when this happens, your dog may turn to them in an angry manner, because it’s like they’re teasing them. When a child spends a lot of time in the dog’s face, he could get irritated. If your children do this, stop them immediately and tell them why it’s important to stay away from the dog’s face and not taunt him.
Teaching kids proper pet care isn’t something you should turn away from. Before you even bring the puppy in your home, you need to sit down and have a talk about pet care with your little ones.