Teaching Your Child Responsibility with a Family Dog
We all know that dogs are our best friends. And they hold that title for obvious reasons. They bring so much joy and love to the family and they become a regular sight in the family photo book. We’d go so far and say that it’s well-deserved. However, did you know that dogs have the ability to help you raise your child? Yes, your pooch can teach your kid a thing or two about responsibility, self-esteem and healthy living habits. You’re wondering how? Let us walk you through the whole process.
It’s simple, taking care of a dog will teach your child quite a few extremely useful things. First of all, your child will be active. A dog needs to go for a walk every day and play with someone. What’s even more important is that a dog needs to be fed every day, at the right time with the right food. That’s where your child learns about responsibilities. When my sister got Joey (our four-legged best friend), her son wanted to share absolutely everything with him. Slowly but surely, he realized that Joey doesn’t quite like his toys but oh boy did Joey enjoy that ice cream and lunch leftovers. And that’s where you need to explain that a dog can’t eat whatever you throw under the table. Of course, sharing is great, and we were all really proud, but my sister had to explain why Joey needs to eat his healthy natural Ivory Coat food instead of leftovers from their table. My nephew adores Joey and he’d never do anything to harm him, so he stopped feeding him random scraps of food. He learned that Joey needs to eat his own food if he was to be a happy dog. The boy once left his cookies in the kitchen and went outside, leaving Joey alone and within reach of the cookies. Guess what happened. When he came back there were only crumbs left. That was a costly mistake and that’s how he learned to think ahead. Joey taught him how every action has a consequence and that’s how my nephew learned not to leave Joey unattended. Oh, he also learned not to leave his cookies unattended. But, that’s beside the point.
Boundaries, Boundaries, Boundaries
Every sane parent knows that setting the boundaries presents an essential part of raising your child, but some take it to a whole new level when they act like momma bear and try to protect their child from everything. We aren’t saying how there should be little to no boundaries but getting a scratch won’t hurt much and it will be a valuable lesson. Dogs are full of energy, they like to play, they are loyal and lovable, and they are amazing friends but that doesn’t mean that we can do whatever we want to them. Your child needs to learn about boundaries and what is permitted and what’s not. If you hug your pooch too hard or pull their tail, you will get a reaction. And that’s great. Why? Well, an innocent bark or a scratch is a bargain when we consider the value of the learned lesson. And you shouldn’t try to rescue your child every time. Do not scold your dog. Your child needs to learn how to respect boundaries in the relationship with the pet. If a dog doesn’t want to play they will show it clearly. If they want to rest, they will rest. And that’s perfectly fair and so honest. That’s way better than a child going to mommy to tattle. Your part here is to teach your child how to read the warning signs. Your child will stay safe and respect boundaries with the beloved pooch but, in the future, your child will use those observational skills in interaction with other children.
Fun Activity, Not a Chore
It is of the utmost importance that your child learns that taking care of the dog isn’t a chore. Make sure that all of the responsibilities seem fun and exciting. Don’t be afraid that you are fooling your child. You aren’t, you’re actually motivating your child to take on different responsibilities without any reluctance. Praise your child’s effort and provide that valuable positive feedback. Always explain just how the actions of your child help the dog’s well-being and happiness and what can happen if your dog doesn’t get his meal or a daily walk. Play a guessing game with your little one. Ask your child to guess what the dog is thinking or feeling because that way your child will see things from the dog’s perspective. That’s the best way to teach your child empathy and also further emphasize the importance of being a responsible person.
Get a dog and you’ll see for yourself how great of an effect it can have on your family. Especially on your little one. In the end, there isn’t a thing cuter than a child growing up with a dog. People will turn their back to each other and do not-so-nice things but dogs, dogs are loyal, and their love is unconditional.
About the Author:
Claire is a personal and professional development expert who believes that a positive attitude is one of the keys to success. You can find her online writing and giving tips about lifestyle and development as a regular contributor at highstylife.com