How to Get Your Children Involved in Pet Care

September 21, 2022

Pet ownership can be a challenging chore. Whether it be teaching your dog to stop barking at the neighbors, finding the right food that agrees with your cat, attempting to keep your dog out of the flowerbeds, or housebreaking your kitten, raising pets to be obedient can be a difficult, and oftentimes draining, task. Although these everyday activities can be a cumbersome activity, knowing your animal is well behaved and happy is always a rewarding feeling. Even more gratifying? Teaching your children the importance of pet care.

Instructing your children how to properly care for their pets is crucial for their growth – and it’s fun, too! Whether you start with grooming, feeding or bathing your pet, ease your children into the pet owning process with the help of these tips:

Lessons from Pavlov’s Pooch

Ivan Petrovitch Pavlov, a physiologist from the late 1800s, is widely regarded as the father of classical conditioning. Pavlov conditioned his dog to salivate at the sound of a bell if the sound, which previously elicited no response, was presented at the same time as a reward. The dog began to associate the sound of the bell with a reward, which in this case, was food. Pavlov proved that dogs could be trained using the technique of classical conditioning, which transformed the way the world viewed training and obedience.

Aside from being a giant leap forward in the field of dog obedience classes, this method can also prove useful when it comes to teaching children to get involved in pet care. Let’s imagine we are teaching a six-year-old child about the responsibility of feeding the family cat twice a day. When the child first sets down the cat food in the early morning, they originally feel no different, aside from understanding that the cat will be happy to be fed. However, if you reward the child for feeding the cat either with candy, extra TV time, or verbal praise, the child will create a positive association with feeding the cat. Every time the child feeds the cat, if you continue to reward the child, eventually the six-year-old child will be conditioned to feed the cat without having to be reminded. Though a long and sometimes repetitive process, it will prove to be effective, and can be implemented in additional areas of pet care including (but not limited to) walking the dog, brushing the cats, or even bathing each animal.

Maturity Matters

Every age brings an entirely different set of life lessons, experiences, and most importantly, responsibilities. Although pets are an excellent way to teach your children the lesson of responsibility, ensure the responsibilities reflect your child’s maturity level. They must have the capacity to safely execute their appointed tasks. For example, before allowing your child to walk your dog around the neighborhood alone, verify that your child is able to safely walk alone (or with a friend!). In addition, confirm that your children know the appropriate routes and that the dog is not too strong for them to handle. For tasks such as these, we recommend an older, more mature child aged 9-17. For younger children, ensuring that pets are brushed and have enough playtime is an excellent way to introduce them to the pet care process.

It Takes Two

Your pets are your family, and holding them to that standard is crucial. Although getting children involved in pet care is a wonderful way to introduce them to responsibilities, ensuring your pet is well behaved must be a priority for the health and safety of your kids. Whether your new puppy needs socialization classes, obedience instruction, or leash training, turn to American Boarding Kennels to ensure that your pets are well behaved and safe. Check out our website or call us at (952) 894-5100 to schedule your first class.