Another wonderful guest post from Zara Lewis.
Back on March 13th, Zara published her first guest post in this place. It was called Dogs and allergies and was very well received by many if not most of you.
So what a pleasure it was to receive a further email and material from Zara last Friday.
Here it is for all you good people!
How Your Family Pooch Can Teach Your Youngsters Responsibility
by Zara Lewis, March 30th 2018
It’s easy to confuse pure obedience with true responsibility, simply because the former serves as the stepping stone, while the latter is a mindset that takes years to build. We as parents make choices every day that affect how well this mindset develops in our kids, but one of the best, most seamless ways for them to succeed is by nurturing their relationship with your family doggo.
With a four-legged friend by their side, kids tend to assume the role of a leader, a friend, and a caregiver with greater ease. Although it comes with its own set of parenting challenges, teaching your kids responsibility with your little fuzzy buddy is a rewarding experience that will enrich your kids’ childhood and help you be a better parent, as well!
Building healthy habits
From regular vet check-ups, vaccines, feeding on a schedule, and taking them for walks every day, your kids will quickly realize that only a healthy dog will be a happy dog. I know that some kids will be eager to split their chocolate cake with their furry pal, but when you explain to them that such a diet can be very harmful, they will be much more careful when choosing the right dog food.
When they’re young, they won’t perceive those walks and frisbee throws as exercise, but if they start embracing this lifestyle so early, they will be much more likely to stay active throughout their adulthood, too.
Learning about boundaries
No matter how in love your youngsters may be with their pet, they often don’t understand that dogs have moods, too. That means they won’t always be in the mood to be hugged, or that dogs won’t put up with having their tail pulled all the time.
The sooner they understand to respect the needs and wants of their pets, your kids will appreciate the meaning of personal preferences even in life. They will learn how to recognize certain body language signals that they are about to cross a line and transfer that knowledge to their hooman friends as well.
Just like that birthday cake is almost too irresistible not to be shared with your pooch, it’s no surprise that many kids want to take their dogs everywhere and share absolutely everything with them. My own little boy wanted to share his bed with our dog, Joey, and even though this is perfectly fine from time to time, making it into a habit wasn’t the best option for either of them.
So, we got a Snooza bed for Joey and placed it in our son’s bedroom and explained that it’s best for each of them to have their own space, since they both grow very fast. Plus, once I told my son that the cleaning of his room will be much more difficult if his bed was filled with dog hair, he immediately changed his mind!
Handling suitable tasks
Overburdening your kids with too many difficult chores is as bad as not giving them enough opportunities to be responsible. It’s best to discern how much your youngsters can handle depending on their age. For example, toddlers can tell you if their water bowl is empty or if they caught the little rascal in the potty act.
Older kids can share the entire feeding, grooming, and walking routine with you, depending on their school responsibilities and other chores. In fact, older kids can even help you train the dog by teaching them various tricks, and playing sessions are beneficial both for your kids and the dog, as they’ll help them grow stronger, and build their bond over time.
Sometimes the homework will pile up and perhaps the flu season will kick in, so you’ll feel the need to spare your kids the trouble of caring for your pet. Even though it’s perfectly fine to help them manage their chores and take over a portion until they are well enough, they shouldn’t suddenly let you take over for good.
Moreover, encourage your kids to pitch in, no matter how little, with their birthday savings or their pocket money when buying dog food, or getting new chew toys. This is yet another way of sharing and learning to become more autonomous even financially with their pets.
The cycle of learning and teaching
While we’re on the subject of sharing, some kids perceive their pooch as another toy at first, or even as a chore you’ve added to their “unwanted” list. This is especially common among very young kids, and it becomes essential for parents to help them cope with these responsibilities by gradually introducing new ones.
Talk to them, see if they would actually like to take charge of a particular activity such as feeding or walking, while you share other responsibilities with them. Explain why these actions are important for keeping your pooch happy and healthy, and they will be much more likely to take on more responsibilities over time.
Finally, don’t forget to be a true role model while your kids are still in the learning stages of caring for your family pet. They will make mistakes, but they should look up to you for better behavioral patterns, and it’s your duty to be the caregiver you’d want your kids to become for your pooch.
You do know if Zara carries on like this I shall hang up my keyboard and just savour Zara’s writings!!