April is Active Dog Month
The month of April is Active Dog Month. This month-long…
Every relationship has spoken or unspoken rules that define socially acceptable behavior within the relationship. The relationship with the family dog is no different. There must be boundaries for both the dog and for his pet parents and all other family members.
However, when it comes to children, these rules and boundaries need to be taught. To keep both the child and the dog safe, it is critical that children are taught to treat the family dog with consideration and respect.
So what would your family dog want you to teach your children?
Teach kindness, respect, and responsibility
Explain to children that all living beings need to be treated with respect and kindness.
If you see a child being unkind to me, remind him or her that I am a living creature and I can feel pain, sadness, and joy just like humans.
Children need to be reminded of these things often. Just like I learn commands through practice and repetition, so do children.
If you notice that my water bowl is empty, this is an excellent opportunity to explain to your child the importance of proper pet care.
Tell him how much I would appreciate having fresh water in my bowl. Explain that there are certain things I depend on my pet parents and family for.
Tell your children that animals don’t belong outside in the cold or the heat. I depend on you to take me inside with you and protect me from harsh outdoor elements.
If you think someone is abusing an animal, the best thing you can do is report your suspicions, according to the ASPCA.
Respect my body
As much as I like having you around me, I am not a piece of furniture, a throw pillow, a jungle gym, or a toy. I am a living being, and like you, I feel pain, and I get irritated.
Please do not:
Don’t allow children to do anything to me that you would not let them do to another child.
I would like it if you would:
Respect my “safe place”
I feel comfortable if I have a safe place of my own, such as a crate or my bed. Please don’t disturb me if I get up and go to my safe place.
I might go to my safe place if:
It’s not that I don’t love you. Like humans, I sometimes need a break.
Please don’t follow me to my safe place. Rest assured, I will come back and let you know when I want to play.
Leave me alone when I’m eating
You wouldn’t let your children stick their hands in your food while you are eating. I just want to eat in peace.
Teach your child:
Parents need to be honest and clear with their children. Always supervise young children around family pets and do not tolerate any mistreatment of animals.
It is equally important that parents lead by example. Parents who treat the family dog with respect are more likely to have children who follow that lead.
Children who grow up with a family pet have an incredible opportunity to learn about empathy, love, responsibility, respect, and compassion. As long as acceptable behavior is defined and reinforced, then children and dogs growing up together can make the very best of friends.
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