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Pet Pals: Teaching Kids Pet Responsibility

The old saying that a dog is man’s best friend rings true for children as well. In fact, you could probably apply it to cats, parakeets, hamsters, and maybe even a frog. A pet can bring joy to a child that rivals even the most sought-after toy, and pet ownership can be a wonderful way to teach children responsibility and empathy. 


Before you head out to find your child’s new best friend, here are a few things to keep in mind. 


Start in Summer


There’s really no wrong time of year to get a pet, but summer does have an advantage when it comes to helping children learn to care for their pets. Because children are out of school for the summer, they’ll have more free time to develop good habits of pet responsibility habits, such as cleaning up and feeding pets. 


Pet tip* Entering into a new home only to have its owners leave can create separation anxiety for pets. If your family has a vacation on the calendar, consider waiting until after you’ve returned before getting a new furry friend. 


Pick the Right Pet


Allowing your child to choose their own pet gives them a sense of power, but it’s important that 

parents use good judgment based on the type of pet and the child’s age. A 4-year-old child may love the idea of getting a golden retriever, but they won’t be able to handle that level of responsibility. Something along the lines of a gerbil or goldfish may be a better fit. 


Whichever pet wins out, your child must understand the new pet is not a toy. A daily pet responsibility schedule should be addressed before the pet is brought home. Your child needs to understand that just because they’re tired or not in the mood, their pet can’t be ignored but needs to be loved and cared for. 


Daily Duties


Unless you’ve opted for a pet rock, your pet is going to have some daily needs that will need to be addressed. Whether your family chooses a dog, a cat, or another type of pet, be sure to assign your child responsibilities suitable for their age. 


Young children will love scooping dog food into their pet’s bowl or sprinkling fish food in the water, but they shouldn’t be allowed to clean the cat’s litter box. Small children are constantly putting their fingers inside their mouths and rubbing their eyes, so save that job for older kids. 


Older children will be able to handle more pet responsibilities, such as taking the dog for a walk, but even then, parents should use their best judgment. Some dogs can pull on a limb with incredible force, so it’s crucial that parents make sure the type of dog they get is a good match with their child. 

One of the things that makes the master-planned Crosswinds community so appealing to pet owners is the amenities available. In addition to the dog park, the community has an expansive trail system that weaves through the community and is perfect for walks with a four-legged friend. To learn more, contact us today.