The kings this year might have decided to bring your kids a pet (they’ve hopefully taken into account the responsibility of having an animal, which is a friend for life…) How can we teach the little ones to look after their new friend?

It can seem a bit obvious, but firstly both parents and children should realize that a dog, a cat, a rabbit, or whatever…they’re not toys: it forms part of the family and as such as someone to be looked after, petted, and taken to the vet.

We must make sure the pet is suitable for our children’s ages, and take into account their growth: a puppy is cute and could get on well with our 5-year-old child, but we shouldn’t forget that dogs grow quickly and are practically adults after a year or so.

Keep in mind that the animal will need fresh water, walks or its cage will need to be cleaned. We must show our children that a pet is a responsibility: even if we don’t feel like doing anything, we will have to walk it, clean it, or feed it. Also be cautious that we think of it as an obligation that over time we’ll start to hate. A friend depends on it.

Careful with spoiling the pet: in time it’s a good idea to consult a trainer or seek advice from a specialist. Equally, we must take care with its food: it’s tempting to give it chocolate or sweets when they look at us with loving eyes, but look up which of our foods could be harmful to their health.

The most enjoyable moments with our pet are when we’re playing with them, but we need to be careful both with the animal and our own children: what could start as an innocent game might end in an injury, argument, or even a bit. It’s really important to teach them how to pay: the good think is we can lead by example.

Obviously this is only some advice we’re giving you. Don’t hesitate in getting advice from your vet or other professionals (careful with what you see on TV).

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