Courtesy of Pet 360:
Growing up with a family pet is a great way for kids to learn two of life’s most valuable lessons: respect and responsibility. To help parents create and foster a special bond between their human and fur kids, Pet360.com has pulled together the following tips for each stage of a child’s development:
Babies: Although babies are too young to care for a pet, it’s important to foster a respectful relationship between your kids and pets from the very beginning. By incorporating pets into regular family activities such as walks or playtime, your child will be more likely to grow up viewing your pet as a respected member of the family. Additionally, using praise and treats to reward your pet for reacting positively to the infant will help reassure your pet that he or she is still loved.
Toddlers: Old enough to interact with dogs, yet too young to interpret their behavior, toddlers run the risk of instigating aggression in even the most mild-mannered of pets. Teaching children to be gentle with the family pet by saying things such as “be nice” while gently patting your pet’s coat will help them learn to respect a pet’s personal space. Teaching dogs to allow little ones to play with their toys or reach into their food bowls will also help to eliminate any unwanted spats from occurring. Furthermore, avoid cleaning your pet’s teeth or face while your toddler is around, as they will inevitably want to give it a try themselves.
Three to Six Years Old: Having grown up with each other for a few years, it is likely that your child and dog will have developed a strong bond. This is the perfect time to start including children in daily tasks such as feeding, playing and brushing. While young kids cannot be relied upon to remember that a pet needs to be fed or played with every day, teaching children how to perform these tasks will encourage a sense of responsibility for the health and well-being of your pet.
Six Years Old and Up: At this age, giving children specific tasks related to the care of the family pet can help further the child’s sense of responsibility. Try assigning easy chores at first to create a positive experience for both your child and your pup. Cleaning the water and food bowls or giving treats for tricks are great ways to help encourage your child to want to help out even more over time.