How Children Learn From Dogs
A relationship with a well-trained dog can teach a child the following:
However, some important points need to be considered before introducing a pet to small children.
The child must be old enough to respect the dog’s space and to not accidentally hurt him by pulling fur etc. Also, never leave a child and dog unsupervised no matter how much you feel you know your dog. Animals are unpredictable and unfortunately, accidents happen. Furthermore, a young child can’t understand a dogs behaviour and body language like an adult can.
Dogs have a pack mentality. Usually, they would consider an adult in the family the pack leader, with children lower down the family hierarchy. A dog may perceive a child to be on the same level, or even lower in the pack order, as himself. This might mean that the dog has difficulty taking instruction from a child.
Teach the child to stroke gently, not to go up close to the face and not to poke ears and eyes. Older children can be shown how to help with feeding and also how to offer a treat. Most importantly, they need to be taught to never approach strange dogs, no matter how cute.
Matt Cassels researched the relationships between children and their pets. He found that not only would a child turn to his pet for support in times of adversity, but he would do so more than he would turn to a sibling. The study also demonstrated that children who had strong relationships with a pet had better pro-social skills such as helping, sharing and cooperating than their peers.
We all remember our first pets and look back fondly on times spent together. Sometimes the loss of a pet can be a child’s first experience of death and grieving, also it is a valuable lesson about the circle of life.
Here is a poem I wrote about welcoming a new puppy into your home.
Today is the day, we’ve waited for
A brand-new puppy to love and adore
He has a new collar and a comfortable bed
So when he gets tired he can rest his sweet head
The house is ready, the gardens secure
There’s treats in the cupboard, a lead by the door
We’ll pat his head and throw his ball
Teach him to fetch and good recall
We’ll keep him healthy, safe and well
So, full of pride, our hearts will swell
And as the months turn into years
He’ll make us laugh and dry our tears.
Here is my first ever dog, her name was Dinky.
Apologies for the grainy photo, it’s over forty years old. This is Dinky my first ever dog, my best friend as a child and also the one who started my lifetime obsession with dogs.
The intention was not to get a dog but my mother couldn’t refuse. So one day she picked me up from school with a little white dog beside her. Consequently, we didn’t know Dinky as a puppy or get to choose her name. However, before long it felt like she had always been there.
What memories do you have about your first pet?