Five Things to Teach Your Children About Owning a New Pet

A few months ago we talked about some important considerations when gifting a pet to a child. If you decided to get a new pet for your child, here are five important lessons to teach your child about owning a new pet in order to keep everyone in the family happy and healthy.

Practice calm, nice behavior – New pets who are adjusting to new environments, especially puppies and kittens, can be rambunctious, which may be difficult for a child to understand. Help your child understand that new pets need extra patience as they get used to and grow in their home, and that even when the pet acts out, their owners need to be calm and kind to help them adjust.

Teach the basics of pet care and keeping them safe – Make sure that children understand that pets need fresh food and water every day to help them grow and stay healthy. Teach them that like people, animals need to take potty breaks, which may mean taking your puppy out on a regular basis. You can also alert children to the fact that puppies and kittens may chew or play with things that aren’t good for them. You can create a chart that can enable youngsters to help with daily pet care activities and develop responsibility skills.

Reinforce the importance of boundaries – Children need to remember that litter boxes, food bowls, and water bowls are off limits for them. Also, they need to understand that pets get tired and need their rest just like people, so sleeping pets should be left alone. Also, they should know that just like children sometimes pets may need time by themselves. Help them understand when your pet wants to play and interact and when they should probably be left alone.

Ensure that an adult is around when they are with your pet – Especially with a new pet, it’s very important that children aren’t left alone without proper adult supervision. A situation between an inquisitive child and inquisitive pet could quickly turn into a bad situation.

Teach the importance of veterinary care – Just like children and adults, pets need to go to the doctor for examinations and vaccinations to make sure that they remain healthy. Pets should be brought to the vet on regular basis to help keep both your pet and family members healthy.

Working with your child on caring for a pet can be extremely rewarding for the whole family, and can teach valuable lessons that can last a lifetime.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has special section on their website,Petpourri, which provides activities for children to help promote responsible pet ownership.

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