Bringing a new dog into your family is an exciting and joyful experience. It’s an opportunity not only to expand your household but also to teach your kids valuable life lessons about responsibility, empathy, and compassion.
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko
But caring for a dog involves more than just cuddles and playtime – it’s a commitment that requires understanding and dedication. In this post, we’ll share how you can instill this into your kids and raise them to be great dog parents themselves.
Let’s get started!
Show them how to feed the dog
The first thing you need to teach your kids is how to care for the dog’s diet.
Begin by explaining why portion control is crucial for the dog’s health. Show your kids how to measure the appropriate amount of dog food using a measuring cup or scoop. This hands-on experience will help them understand the concept of balanced nutrition and prevent overfeeding. Alongside kibble or wet food, consider adding bone broth for dogs to provide an extra boost of nutrition.
Moving forth, teach your kids about the importance of maintaining a regular feeding schedule. Explain how consistent mealtimes and a well-balanced diet contribute to their overall well-being. Create a visual schedule or use an alarm to remind them when it’s time to feed the dog.
Along with food, also focus on proper hydration. Let your kids know how much water is necessary for the dog breed you’ve brought home and what process should they follow to refill the water bowl.
Demonstrate proper disposal of dog waste
Kids are messy and so are dogs. So, the next thing you want to focus on is the proper disposal of dog waste. Here’s how you can guide them:
- Do a hands-on demonstration: Show your kids how to properly use waste bags. Allow them to practice picking up a mock waste (using tissue or cloth) to familiarize themselves with the process. This hands-on approach helps them understand the practical aspects of waste disposal.
- Prepare walking kits: Prepare a kit comprising a supply of waste bags and tools required to pick up the feces. Tell them to carry it whenever they take the dog for a walk. This habit ensures they’re ready to clean up after the dog without relying on anyone else.
Also, make sure you emphasize the importance of keeping the environment clean and hygienic for both the dog and the family. This lesson not only instills responsibility but also imparts a sense of respect for public spaces and consideration for the well-being of the community.
Instill respect for dog’s space and privacy
Similar to humans, dogs value their personal space and moments of solitude. But kids might have trouble understanding this and they might want to play with the dog during every single waking hour.
So, teach your kids to recognize when the dog seeks privacy and relaxation. You can begin by teaching them how to recognize signs that the dog wants to rest. Explain that droopy eyes, lying down, or seeking a quiet corner are cues that the dog is in a more relaxed state and might prefer not to be disturbed.
Moreover, explain that a dog’s bed or crate is its safe haven. Let them know it’s crucial to respect that space. Also, guide your children on how to approach the dog calmly and gently and how to avoid sudden movements that might startle or stress the dog.
Teach them how to play with dogs
This is going to be your kids’ favorite part — and so, we recommend delegating it to the full value. Start by introducing age-appropriate games like fetch or gentle tug-of-war. Show them how to engage the dog with enthusiasm without overwhelming it. Encourage interactive play that promotes bonding, like hiding treats for the dog to find or teaching simple commands like “sit” and “stay.”
Teach your kids to read the dog’s body language to know when it’s enthusiastic and when it might need a break. Remind them that play should always be gentle, avoiding rough handling or excessive noise that could scare the dog. By guiding your kids in playful interactions that respect the dog’s comfort, you’re nurturing a positive friendship built on trust, communication, and shared fun.
Tell them how to care for sick dogs
Lastly, the most essential of all dog care aspects — teach your kids about caring for sick dogs.
Teach them to recognize signs of illness such as changes in appetite or energy levels. Explain the importance of a quiet and comfortable resting space. If your kids are too young to handle a sick dog by themselves, let them know that they should report to you in case of any alarming signs.
However, if your kids are older, show them how to administer medication if required and stress the significance of regular veterinary visits. Encourage them to offer gentle comfort through soft words and calm strokes. Reinforce the idea that their care can aid the dog’s recovery.
In teaching kids dog care, remember that consistency is key. Here’s one more valuable tip: involve them in daily walks. It’s a chance for exercise, bonding, and observing the world together. This routine fosters responsibility and also nurtures a healthy and deep connection between your child and your dog.