I have fond memories of the dogs my family had when I was growing up. We often talk about getting a dog for our girls, so I appreciated Olivia’s tips in this article about helping your children bond with a pet. If you have a dog, or are thinking about getting one like us, I hope these five activities for kids and dogs to foster connection are helpful!
A dog is a man’s best friend—that’s how the saying goes. Dogs are smart, loyal, affectionate, and most often friendly. They are also protective of their owner or family. A dog who is loved will return that love tenfold. This kind of unconditional love is rarely found in this world. Having a dog as a pet is not only good for you, but it also has amazing benefits for your children.
Certain dog breeds are particularly famous for their compatibility with kids. This is not only for the amount of affection and protection they provide, but also for their ability to engage kids to be more active and playful. Here’s a list of five activities guaranteed to help form an unbreakable bond between kids and their dogs from early on.
Games and activities for kids and dogs
Of course, one of the easiest ways for your kid to bond with his furry friend is playing. The options are numerous since dogs are very easily entertained. All you need for a good running and playing session is a stick or a tennis ball, and the game of ‘go fetch’ is on.
Sure, sometimes it might be difficult to get the ball back, as some dogs are reluctant to give up on their catch. In those situations, all a kid has to do is use an upbeat, yet commanding voice, stretch out the hands and say, “Here boy.” Eventually, something will click and the dog will become responsive to the child’s command, which should always be followed by praise or even a treat of some sort. It creates a relationship that goes beyond playful and generates trust between the two.
Friends who learn together, stay together
This might sound unbelievable, but having a kid read with the dog by his or her side has an enormous effect on their friendship. Because the dog loves the child unconditionally, and is incapable of judgment, children may gain confidence as they read to their dog. This creates a safe environment for your child to practice and improve their skills. It also strengthens the friendship, as the child begins to perceive the dog as not only a pet but a confidant of a sort.
Feed me, feed me
Yes, dogs, like other animals, require the right food at the right time. Again, one great bonding moment could be created if you assign the chore of feeding to your kids. It teaches them responsibility. Pets also tend to fall in love with those who provide the food.
If your child is internet savvy (as most kids today are), you can even let them shop for dog supplies online. That way, they will learn what is best for their furry friend and always know what to get, even when they are older. It also saves you time from having to teach them how to provide for their pet when they are older.
Walk with me
Dogs are a lot of fun, but let us not forget that they are a huge responsibility as well. They require several walks a day, proper food, and health care. This is a great and educational moment for your child. By being responsible for at least one dog-walking session a day (with you present if the child is still too young to go alone), the child learns a lot about care and responsibility. These are lessons that will be valuable for a lifetime.
Apart from that, this activity for kids and dogs fosters trust. The dog becomes aware that it is his little friend who is taking him out. The pet will love the child even more for it. On top of all that, a study shows that this type of activity has enormous health benefits—prevention of obesity being just one of them. This is more than a fun activity—it is a way to preserve health.
The snuggle is real
Sometimes there is no better way to show love than with actual love—hugging, snuggling, and kissing. Let your child and his pet just lie down and be lazy, snuggle with each other, even take a nap together.
This is what best friends do, plus, it has an amazingly soothing and calming effect on both parties involved. Trust us, the snuggle is real.
What activities for kids and dogs would you suggest? Do you have a pet?
Olivia Williams Jones is psychologist from Brisbane, dedicated to making some changes in the world, starting from her own environment. Also, she is regular contributor to High Style Life blog. Olivia is a writer who is passionate about mental health, parenting, healthy living and pets. Her motto is “Be the change you want to see in the world.” You can find her on Facebook and Twitter.