For my kids, our family pets are their best friends. These pets serve as their friends who teaches them about friendship, loyalty, responsibility, and empathy, but also a companion to your children. While most families love to keep dogs and cats as additions to their family, other animals are suitable too. You may have hamsters, rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, and fishes. However, you must take care of these pets. Even though they may seem smaller than your usual pets, they should also receive the same amount of care and attention.

The key to treating pets as your family member is to give these animals gentle care, loyalty, and love. That way, you are going to train your kids to become responsible and loving. It is not enough to get a pet for your child’s entertainment. You need to have a pet that will be a lifelong family member. To teach your kids to take good care of household pets, you must be a role model too. For our family, a pet is not just a temporary playmate, especially for our toddlers. We try to treat them as a family member.

How to Introduce a Pet to Toddlers

For parents, it is a goal that your kids will also get along with your pets. You aim that your children will also love your pets as much as you love them. But, how old should you introduce pets to your kids, especially your toddlers? In our case, my husband and I decided that we let our babies get along with pets as early as 2 to 3 years old. During this stage, we let our toddler touch our dog and play with the dog.

But of course, you need to supervise the playtime. We allowed our kid to feel our dog gently with our control. I don’t know if this will also apply to other pets and toddlers, but my child is well-behaved, and she exhibited so much interest and cared for our dog. And in the same way, our dog also adores our toddler. In fact, our pup would make sure that he protects and secure our child whenever we prepare her food, milk, and cloth diapers or take a nap on the rocking chair.

How I Allow My Toddler to Interact with Our Pet

To allow my tot to play and care for our pet dog, we allowed her to interact with him. But, the playtime should be with our supervision. We believe that it is vital to help our kid see the world and right values to our dog’s eyes. We would often ask her what would she feel if someone would pull her ears and poke her eyes. We allowed her to empathise with our dog. We also explained that the even tamed pets have limitations too. We also emphasised that these family pets must have the same love, respect, and care that our kid receives.

 We helped her understand that our dog also needs some space, especially when resting and eating. We usually tell our toddler that too much petting may make our dog upset, and we don’t want that to happen. We always tell her that her pet friend may want to be alone at times. We also tell our kid not to touch our dog if we are not around. She must ask permission to pet our dog first. We also indicate that when our dog is in pain or has some health issues, she should leave him alone because only adults could take care of him. We also teach her some proper behaviours when our dog is around with us. We always remind her that screaming and too much running may make our dog too excited.

How I Teach My Child when Taking Good Care of Our Pets

The best way we’ve learned when we show our tot the responsibility of owning a pet is to become the pet caregivers ourselves. We always make sure that we let her see how much care and love we put with our dog. We also set realistic expectations for her, and we take little steps to introduce our dog to her.

As soon as we established that rapport, we started to set up some rules and began to enforce them one by one, especially in the proper care of our dog. For instance, we tell our kid not to pull our dog’s ears, tail, and fur. We also insisted not to tease, chase, and hit our pet dog. We may allow him to touch and pick our dog, however, we did this with caution and with proper training. These simple methods of pet-kid relationship will help your toddler to become responsible pet caretakers.

Although you have to handle some pet-care activities, you may still want to include your kid by demonstrating and explaining what you are doing. For example, when you are giving your dog a bath. You may still want your child to observe this activity. However, we always explain to her that she is not yet allowed to do this because she is still little. Also, we include her to some activities that require less physical demands. It will make your pet well-mannered, and it will teach your tot about effective communication and humane treatment.

What we also realised is that our toddler will learn how to treat our dog and other pets properly by observing how you treat the pet. You see, your kids want to study how you would pet, feed, and take care of your pet. They will watch your attitude when your dog barks excessively and bites your shoes. Thus, when you face these pet problems, you need not overreact. You may scold your dog. However, reinforce it with care. That way, your kid will develop into a loving pet owner.

Conclusion

Having pets may require a lot of discipline and responsibility. However, it may also help your child to develop positive attitudes like being responsible, caring, and loving. Moreover, in a study I have read, it has proved that interaction with pets will significantly improve one’s emotional and physical health. Hence, having pets is perfect for kids. For children battling with any life situations,  having pets may also help them. They may offer the distraction to pain and can even provide entertainment. It will also help your child to develop his or her social interactions. By talking to your pets about how they feel, their thoughts, and memories, you are allowing your kid to develop his or her social capabilities.

A Short Bio: Sarah Morgan – Main Editor of Wellbeingkid. Being a mother makes me realize that life is a great adventure. No day is always the same, which makes every day so much more exciting.