My husband and I got our first puppy about a year before we were married. His name was Royal, and he was my favorite thing in the world. Soon after, Oscar joined, and they were quite the dynamic duo. These dogs were very good, and we raised them to be pretty low maintenance. However, when we were in the middle of their puppy years, I thought nothing would be harder than raising two puppies. Skip forward four years to the birth of my first born, and I thought the same thing. Soon after, two other babies showed up, and we had a full house of dogs and young kids. Those years were crazy–what I remember of them–but they were full of adorable living things. Now that our first two puppies have passed on and our kids are older, my family has a great perspective of pet ownership. My children can be partners in raising these animals, and these are some of the best life lessons I can offer. Now that my children are mature enough to have empathy, play with the animals safely, and feed them, they are absolutely helpers when it comes to Daisy and Sky, the German short-hair and Aussie lab mixes who currently have our hearts.
Any pet owner knows that there are a lot of responsibilities that come along with keeping a happy, pet-filled home. My 11, 9, and 6-year-old are learning the same thing. Now that they are old enough to help around the house, some of their chores include keeping the dogs healthy and happy. My older kids take the dogs for walks, pick up after them, and stay out of neighbors’ yards. My youngest two like to attend veterinary appointments and spoil the puppies after their yearly shots. The kids get to experience the process of keeping pets healthy, and they know that it takes a lot of hard work. When a pet passes, it is so tragic, but kids seem to have a better understanding of the circle of life than adults. Although painful, dealing with grief is a part of life, and talking them through these hard times teaches them so much.
Someone Counts on Them
One benefit I never saw coming is the fact that my children enjoy being important to our pets. They each have pretty specific and special activities that they like to do with them. My oldest loves to wrestle with our 5 month old puppy, while our middle thrives on a good Frisbee game with our German short hair. My youngest was once seen as a 5-year-old chew toy for our puppy, but she has now graduated to the treat giver, making our puppy see her more as an owner rather than a ruffly tug toy. I watch them each have their own way of loving our pets, and it is wonderful that they feel so important because of the dogs’ love for them.
Creativity and Problem Solving
Pets force our children to develop creativity and problem solving skills. They can develop new skills to teach the animals, such as: deciding how best to walk each dog so that there are no little hiccups along the way, or how to get them what they need during a busy schedule in terms of play, potty breaks, etc. They can help make decisions on how best to wash and groom them, while attending a vet trip so they can experience all of the ways we make sure our dogs are healthy. My kids have patched fences to keep our puppies safe, made obstacle courses in the back yard for them, and introduced Daisy and Sky to new people safely. Our pets give them so many skills.
Finally, there is nothing like the unconditional love our pets have for our children. Because they are our partners in raising our dogs, Daisy and Sky stare straight into their eyes with love and adoration. This payment means way more than an allowance or a toy for helping. The love another living being can have for humans is not lost on my children, and I think this is my favorite part about letting them help.
All of my kids enjoy being the one to hold the key to get into our house so they can let the puppies out first. The kids watch me train my puppies and they try to do the same. The dogs play and tug with the kids, and the family is pretty giggly most of the time. By showing them how important it is to be a good pet owner, they understand that a lot of work goes into it, but that’s why having happy pets is so rewarding.
If you are thinking about letting pets into your world or letting your children become more involved in training them, I would recommend giving it a try. The benefits greatly outweigh the negatives. What are the ways you have your kids help raise your pets? Send us a message or an email.