Say Yes to a Pet: 5 Life Lessons a Pet Can Teach Your Kids

Apple Thor There are a lot of pros for bringing a pet into the family. Among them — unconditional love and joy, to name a few — one of the biggest benefits of having a pet is the life lessons that it can teach your children. If you decide to get a dog, you first have to make sure your kids know how to act around the dog first by teaching them the dos and don’ts of owning one. You could also use a dog breeds word search puzzle to help bring a bit of fun to the teaching but it’s imperative that you teach them. You don’t want them to end up pulling on the dogs tail or feeding it something they shouldn’t. Once they know how to treat the dog then you will be more than ready to get one for the family. If you’re still unsure about getting a pet, here are some reasons to help you lean toward yes.

What It Means to Save

It costs money to bring home a new pet, even if you adopt. Explain to your kids that if they want a pet, they’ll need to prepare financially and understand what it means to save for something. As a family, come up with a list of needs that a new pet will require; these expenditures may be a litter box for a cat, a collar and leash for a dog, kennel and bed, food and water bowl, and vaccines. Then delegate ways the kids can earn money to help pay for these items through chores, teaching them how it takes work to spend X amount of dollars. Then the fun begins as you shop for these items together.

How to Research

One of the biggest steps in getting a dog is to know what breed is best for your family. Bring the kids into the decision making process by encouraging them to learn about particular types of breeds. Start with dog breed selector tools from IAMS or the American Kennel Club, or check out the app Perfect Dog Free — Ultimate Breed Guide to Dogs. You might also want to know more about the latest pet products. Head to the goody pet website for all your pet accessory related reviews and news. Not all pets are furry felines or canines too. Exotic pets like snakes, birds and even hedgehogs make great pets, too. It is also particularly important that you know about the types of foods your pet can and cannot eat, especially if they have an unusual diet. For example, did you know that cat food is one of the best meals you can provide for a hedgehog? Click here to learn more about feeding a pet hedgehog cat food. Ultimately, if an exotic pet interests you, then get your kids involved in researching these types of animals online or talk to pet store owners for more support and advice.

The Value of Family

A pet can create a strong family bond and bring everyone closer together. Establishing a new ritual like walking the dog together after dinner designates daily family quality time. Or your kids may play with one another more with their dog, rather than always retreating to their electronics. New rituals (like dog walking, going to the dog park or baking homemade doggie treats) cultivate a family-oriented household that values building new experiences and memories together, whether you have two legs or four paws.

Life Skills

A pet can play a role in developing crucial life skills, and Michigan State University Extension lists these as:

  • Compassion and Loyalty: Learning to take care of it through kindness and building a trusting relationship
  • Respect: Understanding boundaries like leaving the pet alone while it’s eating or sleeping; not to tease or aggravate it by yanking on ears or pulling tails
  • Patience: Understanding that bonding, training and teaching tricks can take time
  • Ability to Socialize: Making new friends and engaging in conversation because of an interest in the pet
  • Empathy: Caring about something other than themselves; children learn to understand a pet’s needs, how to help and how to show their pet love

Good Self-Esteem

One of the biggest and most well-known lessons that a pet can teach children is responsibility; it’s their job to clean up after the pet, take it outside or clean the tank. Responsibility boosts a child’s self-esteem. By giving children positive feedback for accomplishing something, you boost their confidence and sense of purpose. Kids learn that they’re capable and can contribute to the family and home. If you’re still looking for more to add, know that a pet can teach a child how to share, ease stress and anxiety through cuddling, and promote physical activity. Above all though, a pet teaches a child about companionship, friendship and how to love unconditionally, so he or she can grow into a good person.

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