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Training Your Children for a New Pet

Bringing a new pet into your home is a big decision for a family, especially when there are children in the household.  Pets can bring a lot of joy to any home and can help children learn the responsibilities that go along with caring for another living creature.  They provide opportunities for fun and companionship as well as teaching us about compassion.  It is also shown that having a pet in the home reduces the development of allergies to animals. Fortunately, there are things that you can do to help with training your children for a new pet.


Sometimes, however, a pet might not be a good fit.  The temperament of both the pet and the child (or children) have to be taken into consideration.  Toddlers, for example, tend to be grabby and will need active supervision and guidance on how to carefully interact with pets.  Respectful interaction is needed to ensure learning and improvement for all. If you are unsure of how a pet will respond to your children (or how your children might respond to your pet), you might consider waiting a few years until children are older and better able to understand what is expected in regards to caring for and living with a dog or a cat.


If you decide that a pet is a good fit for your household, there are several things you can do to make this transition easier for both your family and your new addition.  One of the first things is to do some research on dog breeds and their temperaments to determine what breed might be a good fit for your lifestyle and your family dynamic.  There are some online resources you can use as well to help match your child’s age and personality to a fitting breed (i.e. your-child/#page=5 ).


Once you have decided to move forward, consider bringing your child or children to a shelter to meet some prospective pets and determine if there is an animal there that might be considered a good match.   You can also do research together on how to care for a new pet that can include what foods you want to use or what kind of toys might be fun for them or what games might be appropriate to play.  If you are bringing home a puppy or a kitten, you might want to discuss how to handle training for going outside or using a litterbox and what to do when accidents happen.  Knowing the basics of training in advance can help all members of your family start their relationships with a new pet on the right foot.  Small caretaking responsibilities can be decided on in advance so that children are involved, but not overwhelmed.


When you reach the day when you bring your new pet home, plan on careful parental supervision and commitment to both pet and child. Designating specific feeding and sleeping areas within your home will help to allow for your new pet to have their own safe space.  You can also consider hiring a trainer to work with you and your family transition to your new roles as caring pet owners.  Discuss and model respectful behaviors (like leaving a dog alone when they are in their crate) and teach your children about guidelines for proper pet interactions. You can also include how to behave around other animals they might meet when out of the home (i.e. ask permission before petting someone else’s dog or cat).


There is no doubt that growing up with a pet in your household is a wonderful thing that makes a lasting impression and expands your family.  With some careful assessments and planning, you can prevent some of the mishaps and be assured that the experiences are positive for all involved.  If you are looking for guidance on a new pet, our Team at Longview Animal Hospital is happy to provide assistance.  You can call us at 903-807-0887 or stop in at our office at 2500 Estes Parkway in Longview, TX.  For more information about us and our veterinary services for new pets, please visit .