If you have a pet, then you know how important they are to you. They’re part of your family: they wake up with you every morning, greet you when we come home from work, and put a smile on your face every time you see them. When you have kids, watching them interact is heart warming and instills you with a joy you can’t explain.
However, you also want you kids to have the same bond with your pet as you do. That’s why it’s essential to involve kids in the pet training process and teach them to care for dogs and cats with proper guidelines. Involving children with pet training helps them to strengthen their bond as well as teach your child patience and respect for other living things.
Speaking as a parent, it’s also critically important that your child understands the importance of pet training. Otherwise, careless handling of animals can cause harm to both the child and the pet.
Here are some tips to get your kid involved in the training process for your dog and cat.
Getting Kids Involved With Dog Training
Kids get most excited and are eager to help out when a new dog enters the family. They want to do everything with the dog. It’s best to ease them both (your dog and your kid) into the routine. Start with teaching your child how to feed your new pup, how to groom them, how to pet them and pick them up, and how to play with them.
Most importantly, teach your kid how to listen to your dog. Here’s how:
Go Through the Basics
We all know the phrase “old dogs can’t learn new tricks.” It is essential that you get both your kid and your dog on board with basic command training as early as you can. Your kid will need to know how to properly and safely handle your dog, and your dog will need to know how to listen to your kid.
How should you do this? Have your kids go to dog training with you! They’ll learn right alongside your dog. If dog training classes aren’t an option, then have your kid present when you’re teaching your dog tricks.
First, teach them the 5 basic commands: sit, stay, come, lay down, and walk. Dogs learn best with vocal sounds and hand signals, so go slowly so both your kids and your dogs learn the motions.
You both give the command, and your kid can give the pup its treat. It’s a fun system that will keep both your child and your dog entertained.
Let Your Child Be Involved in Everyday Care
Everyday care is the perfect time for your child and your dog to get to know each other. It’s really where they develop their bond and deepen their lifelong friendship. It’s also when your kid will learn the most from their furry companion.
While you can have them in charge of certain responsibilities, like feeding the dog, playing with them in the (preferably fenced in) back yard, and making sure you all go for a daily walk, they’ll learn so much more. They’ll learn body language and nonverbal communication, how to love another being, how to care for another being, and they’ll know what companionship is. These are essential for a child’s development and help them become well-rounded individuals.
Teach Your Kid to Respect Your Dog’s Boundaries
Everyone has limits and boundaries. Your dog can’t tell you what theirs are, so it’s essential you help your kids understand and respect your dog’s boundaries.
Your dog won’t be a bouncing ball of energy every moment of the day, or they may want to play when your kid is busy. If your pup doesn’t get what they want, or are annoyed or frustrated, they can act out. This may frighten or hurt your kid if they’re not prepared to handle it.
Additionally, some dogs have physical ailments that may stop them from playing. This is a great opportunity to teach your kid empathy and patience. It shows them that your dog is still your beloved dog, even if they can’t fetch like they used to.
For example, your dog may injure its leg. If your pup needs a dog ACL brace, you can have your kids help put it on. It gives you the chance to show them how to care for something that can’t care for itself.
Getting Your Kids Involved in Cat Training
Cats can be a little more fickle than dogs, but they’re still a loving member of the family. They’re always down for a good snuggle, to chase some toys, or to just be in the same room as you. They can be trained (yes, cats can learn tricks!), but their training is a little different from dogs. Cats don’t always follow commands — they tend to live their life on their own terms.
Because of this, a lot of people think cats and kids don’t mix because cats are ‘too unpredictable” or “too moody.” That is not the case at all! Cats make wonderful companions for kids. Just like dogs, though, it’s essential to have your kid bond with them as early as possible. This is done through training too.
Learn How to Play with Them
Some cats love chasing. Others love pouncing. The most energetic ones love catching things right out of the air. And some? They love all three and more.
Get a bunch of toys and encourage your kids to experiment with them. Try them all out and your cat will show you what they prefer or they’ll ignore it entirely. Some may hiss at new toys, and that’s okay. Have your kid back off and try again with a new toy in a little while. Your kitty may just not be in the mood to play.
When they are playful, your child can easily spend 30 minutes a day playing indoor games with a cat. It builds a great bond and trust between your kid and your cat, as well as teaches your kid nonverbal communication. All it takes is one butt wiggle for them to know a pounce is incoming!
Maintain a Regular Routine
Cats are creatures of habit. They love to play at the same time of the day so it doesn’t interfere with their crucial nap times. So it’s necessary to teach your child to follow the routine and play accordingly.
To get the maximum attention from your cat, tell your kid to provide enough breaks while playing with them. Cats are tricky — they may act uninterested as a way to sneak up on their prey. So be patient with them and always avoid shouting at them or getting frustrated if they don’t pounce right away.
Alone Time is Good!
Unlike other animals, cats are very independent and like their safe zones. They don’t need attention 24/7 and often prefer to be alone for longer periods. Sometimes they hide underneath something, in baskets or boxes, or up on high places. Teach your child not to disturb the cat when they’re curled up in their safe zone.
A good metaphor we’ve used is telling our kids that “that is kitty’s room.” Your kid knows that their bedroom is their space, so it should be easy for them to understand that the kitty condo, box, or shelf is the cat’s space too.
Training a pet is a great way to teach your kids valuable life lessons while making sure everyone (animal and human) are happy together. Through effective training, children will learn about how to respect and communicate with the pets and the pet learns to respond from the family members. We hope our tips helped you!