Pet Pointers: Choosing the right pet for your child
A love for animals begins early in childhood, but how to handle pets doesn’t always come naturally. Today we’ll talk about choosing the right pet for your kids and how to help your children learn the right way to deal with animals in this edition of Pet Pointers.
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First, it’s important that you teach gentle touching and empathy to children right from the start. Never demonstrate rough play toward animals. This can lead to injury to both your child and the animal.
Never leave a child alone with even the most trusted pets, big or small. Even small dogs and cats can cause serious injury if they are teased, squeezed or frightened. Seventy-seven percent of bites are from dogs that were trusted and thought to be “friendly.” These injuries often happen when kids are unsupervised and taunting an animal.
When choosing the right pet for your child consider their age, temperament and interests. Some kids are happy with fish or a small lizard, which are great for busy families. Keeping a feeding schedule or journal can help a child understand how important it is that they care for and monitor their pets.
Other kids, with help from mom or dad, can handle and want the responsibility of a small mammal such as a Guinea Pig. These little guys love to snuggle and are good pets for affectionate kids at least 8 years old. Have your child participate in cage cleaning, filling water bowls and gentle supervised play.
Cats and dogs should always be a family responsibility with animal care divided up daily. Supervise kids as they help walk the dog, brush their coat and give food and water. Have kids learn basic commands like Sit, stay and down and practice every day. Kids can clean cat’s litter boxes, brush them and teach them to sit, stay and come with good treats and lots patience.
Never give all responsibility of caring for a pet to a child of any age. Kids need the guidance of an experienced adult to know how to handle animals.