If you have a child, you've probably heard those familiar words, 'Can we keep
him?' Dogs aren't just a man's best friend anymore; they've become the whole
family's friend. If you're like any typical family, the children will probably
spend the most time with your new dog. This is why it's very important you teach
your child how to take care of him. Here are a few dog rules to teach them:
1. Make sure you remember to feed the dog and give him fresh water each day. Explain that dogs, especially puppies, need nutrition each day for energy and proper growth. If you have an outside dog, it's especially important that his water dish is changed everyday. Standing water is a breeding place for mosquitoes. Also dirt can get flung into their dish. It is equally important for small children to be supervised when dealing with this type of responsibility. Sometimes smaller children can be too eager to help. Explain to your children why we don't feed dog's certain foods such as sweets. Dog food is made to meet their dog's nutritional needs and sweets can make their dog sick.
2. Being N-I-C-E to your dog is another lesson to teach children. Younger children, particularly under the age of four, have a tendency to be rough with animals. Pulling tails and ears just comes naturally with their curiosity. With a new dog, you may not know his temperament very well or how he may react to your child's curiosity. Lead by example. Show your child how to be kind to animals. Show them how to gently pet them on the head or back and that hitting or pulling can hurt the dog.
3. Teach your child about the importance of exercise with the family dog. In order for the dog to stay healthy he must move around and play. If the dog is not overpowering, let your child walk the dog with a leash. Another fun activity for exercise is fetch. Let your child throw a ball or stick for the pet to chase. This is lots of fun for both participants.
4. If you have a rambunctious puppy, make sure your child doesn't leave things lying around. Puppies love to chew on whatever they can sink their teeth into. If they see your daughter's favorite dolly on the floor, or your son's tennis shoe, the puppy will show no reserve. They will usually dive right in. Tell your child that your puppy is too young to understand, and that until he gets older, be extra careful about leaving things lying around.
5. Keep bathroom doors shut. Dogs are notorious for drinking from the toilet bowl. If you can help it, reduce the temptation for him, by teaching your child to keep bathroom doors shut.
6. If you have an indoor dog then he's got to have potty breaks outside. Keep a schedule of bathroom breaks for your dog. This is one of the not so fun parts of taking care of a new pet. Remind your child that if the new dog doesn't keep to the scheduled potty breaks that he may find a place in the house. In training a new dog to use the bathroom outside, the scheduled times must be strictly kept.
7. Make a chart. If you child is having problems remembering to feed the pet or take it out for breaks, it would be a great idea to make a chart of things to do each day. Let your child mark a check when the chore has been completed. The more he completes the chore, the easier it will be to remember.
Children don't always see the bigger picture of taking care of a new dog, but with our guidance, they will no doubt become good little pet owners. It's a good idea to applaud your child when he takes on responsibility and follows through with it. This will give them confidence to mature and take on more responsibility as they get older. Taking care of a pet is a big responsibility. Teach your kids that just as they have to be taken care of by parents, their pet has to be taken care of as well. Our pets depend on us everyday.