There is nothing like seeing the joy and excitement in your child’s face when they get their first pet. Having a pet is also a good way to teach kids responsibility and learn how to be empathetic to the needs of someone/something outside of themselves.
If your child is under 6, you might want to think about getting them a lower-maintenance pet so they can become accustomed to the responsibilities that come with having a pet. Guinea pigs, hamsters and fish are great starter pets. If your child is a bit older, they might be ready for the dog or cat they have undoubtedly been begging for.
Once your pet is home (congratulations!) you can begin to go through all the needs of the animal, and help children understand why each chore is needed to keep their new pet happy and healthy. Whenever possible, children should be involved in the care, feeding, grooming, and training of the pet. If your children want a dog, explain to them that a dog needs to be fed at least twice per day, have clean water, get daily walks and needs play time in order to thrive. You can help them make a chart of feeding times, and show them how to wash their pets’ dishes once they have finished their food. A dry-erase board is also helpful to write down walk times and have your child “check off” each time they walked their pet.
You will want to take your children along with you to the vet’s office, so they can see how, just like they themselves need to visit their doctor, so does their pet. This may help alleviate any stress or nerves if they get to see first-hand that the vet is there to care for their animal and it isn’t a scary experience.
Responsible pet care is a great learning opportunity to teach children responsibility and how to anticipate, watch and respond to others’ needs. The bond between a child and their pet lasts a lifetime and enriches their lives as nothing else can.
This article is sponsored by the My Town Games, the makers of My Town : Pets.
When you are ready to begin looking at pet adoption, My Town : Pets is perfect practice. The game opens with various pets to choose from, including gerbils, birds, cats and dogs. Each different play area offers a new chance to learn what pets need and how to be responsible pet parents. Once you bring home your pet, the next step is most likely finding and visiting a vet. In the game, your children are able to interact with their pet in a veterinarian’s office, and you can help them prepare for their real pet’s first visit, by showing them in the app what will most likely occur. Whether it is filling their food and water dishes, visiting the pet spa to bathe their pet, or taking them to the dog park with reminders to clean up after their dog, there are many hidden locations for you and your child to invent a new story each time you play.