Primary Pet Care: Children do not have an intuitive sense of how to take care of their pets and how to treat a pet in general. Young children often find it challenging to understand the difference between stuffed animals and live animals, plush toys, and try to play with real animals like their own teddy bear, hugging and putting the unfortunate animal to bed. Robotic dogs, talking cats, and breathing animals (precisely like life!) blur the lines between living beings and toys. A child, especially a younger one, must be taught to understand and feel the difference.
And it’s not just preschoolers who have difficulty recognizing the importance primary pet care. Older children may also not understand how to treat animals without proper training. And treat them with respect!
Here are some strategies to help your child learn to take care of animals the right way – the right way.
1. Let your child help you take care of the pet.
Involve your child in feeding, brushing, and cleaning up after your pet. This can serve as a good reminder that your pet is a living creature that needs care; without care, it simply cannot live.
Supervising your child if he is still young and trying to Primary Pet Care is essential.
Please don’t assume that your little one will remember to feed the dog at the same time every day or that he will be able to keep the cage clean on his own. Promote engagement slowly, and see when the child can care for the pet regularly.
2. Prohibition of rough games.
Just because a cat doesn’t scratch and a dog doesn’t bite doesn’t mean it’s okay to let your little one wrestle with their pets. Establish clear rules about what is acceptable to play and what not to do with animals. Encourage your child to play in a fun and safe way for your pet. And, therefore, for the child. No wrestling, no tail tugging, no use of force.
3. Emphasis on respectful behavior.
Make sure the focus isn’t just on “what not to do” rules. Instead, spend time teaching your child what constitutes respectful behavior, first, with your pet. Then – with animals, the outside world, and people. Show your child how much a furry friend loves to be petted.
4. Model of behavior.
If you kick your dog at least once in a while, your child will do the same. Much more often than yourself. He knows this is permissible, and a child is irritated much more quickly than an adult. Don’t swear at the animal. Even if your pet does not understand the meaning of your unkind words, the child hears and understands everything. And will repeat. Try not to call your pet “stupid,” and don’t threaten to hurt him for misbehaving. Your child will misinterpret this.
You must be a role model for how to treat animals with respect.
It is necessary to let the baby understand that caring for a pet is not something one-time for his pleasure (like feeding his teddy bear) but an ongoing essential thing.
It may be helpful to point out to the child that although “it’s cold outside and I don’t want to go for a walk, Sharik must go for a walk every day.” Family members should help each other walk the dog and do other chores.
5. Provide supervision.
Unfortunately, the news often shows the ugly stories of children abusing animals without supervision. Sometimes children torture pets. Pets may defend themselves against such actions.
Constantly observe when your child is near the pet. There should be no signs of aggression from either side. Otherwise, leaving a child alone with an animal is dangerous. Sometimes, even “perfect kids” can do harmful things, not always intentionally. A child may accidentally step on a dog’s paw or fall on it, try to remove the cat from the table more decisively than necessary, etc. The consequences are unpredictable.
Take immediate action if your child hits, pushes, pulls your pet’s tail, or violates any other rules of friendly coexistence. Cancel all playtime with the pet, remove all caregiving duties from the child, and gradually teach the child to behave appropriately.
Do not wait for natural consequences; restrain your child’s behavior immediately. The cat will scratch if the child gets too rough, and the dog will let him know if he is irritated. In no case do not let the animal stand up for itself, then explain to the child that “he deserved it.” Nothing good will ever come of such tactics. Even pets with a mild disposition can become aggressive. This is unfair to your pet and can lead to severe consequences.
Cruelty to animals can signify a child’s mental health problems. Talk to your pediatrician if your child has taken your pet to the point of constant rude jokes and bullying.
But all this, fortunately, is an exception to the rule. Most often, children adore their pets, and they reciprocate. It is essential to properly approach the issue of having a pet in your home, discuss the event with the children, and prepare a “dowry” for the animal together.