â€œCan we have a dog?â€ is one of the most common questions kids ask their parents. Almost as soon as a child is old enough to speak, heâ€™s asking for a pet.
Even if you donâ€™t think that dogs are the best pets in the universe, you should consider adopting one for you and your child to raise together. Dogs are loving, loyal creatures who are almost always ready to play with anybody in the house.
More importantly, theyâ€™re living things that require love and care. This responsibility, which you can talk to your child about every day of his life, is best taught through doing. Having your child help take care of a dog will show him the real meaning of what youâ€™ve been saying.
Before you head to the pet store or animal shelter, have a discussion with your child about the responsibilities of owning any sort of pet. Make sure that he understands the dogâ€™s needs, and that he is in charge of them.
While you canâ€™t expect your five-year-old to pay vet bills, you can put him in charge of other dog-related needs. He can be the one who feeds the dog. He can be responsible for keeping the water dish full. And he can definitely go with you to walk the dog and play.
The dog-related housework assigned to your child will help teach responsibility. He might forget occasionally at first, but gentle reminders will help the new routine and duties stay in his mind.
You should then have your child help you prepare the house for the new dog. Getting food and water dishes is a good place to start. Making a bed for the new pet is another good idea.
While youâ€™re doing this, think about what the dog will destroy. Puppies love to eat shoes. If you have your child help you put these things out of the new dogâ€™s reach before the arrival, heâ€™ll be used to having to do this as long as the dog is in that stage of life.
Now itâ€™s time to pick out the new member of the family. Animal shelters and pet stores are great places to look, but you can also find dogs in the classified section of your newspaper and through word-of-mouth.
Eventually someone is going to name this puppy. Solicit suggestions from your child. He might come up with very unusual ideas, but consider what he says. You might not want to name the dog â€œBoofusâ€ or â€œTarzan.â€ But if these are names that your child likes, and heâ€™s the one learning the life lesson, his ideas should be considered.
As dog and child bond and grow together, theyâ€™ll teach each other more things than you imagined possible. With proper training, the puppy will grow into a well-behaved dog who adores your entire family. And while you and your child are teaching the dog, whether he be a Boofus or a Fido, to fetch and stay, heâ€™ll be teaching your family about love and caring, responsibility and being good masters.
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