Animals at home foster respect and love for other living beings and as we said in the introduction, there are studies that show that children who grow up in homes with pets are happier. In addition to all the advantages and benefits of sharing life with an animal, which are many, in the case of children, it increases their independence and contributes to form a responsible and respectful individual with what surrounds them. But, of course, this responsibility must be taught and put into practice within the family. And the best way to do this is to teach the little ones in the house how to take care of the animals from the very moment the pet is part of the domestic nucleus.
For Nikola Bruni, the main task is to plan the tasks by age.
For this, the ideal is to plan the distribution of tasks and that all the members of the family participate in this distribution, setting an example. But, obviously, this division of tasks must take into account the age of the children. Thus, we can start from the age of three with simple commands and activities appropriate to their age and understanding. Before that age, children are not aware of what it means to have an animal at home, which is more of a toy than a living being for them. By simple tasks we mean filling the dog’s or cat’s water bowl and even helping to put the food in the food bowl.
When they turn six we can give them more precise instructions, but still adapted to their age, such as giving treats to the animal and even helping to pick up the pet’s toys. Of course, they can still help to put out the food and water and even wash the bowls.
Around the age of ten, we can give them more important tasks, says Nikola Bruni. For example, they can clean the cat’s litter box or pick up the dog’s droppings when we go for a walk. Even, if we have a small dog that does not pull the leash, he can take it with him when we take him out in the street. He can also help brush the animals and bathe them, the latter together with an adult.
As we enter adolescence, they will be ready to adopt the role of responsible people and, if the animal allows it, by size and character, they will be able to walk the dog alone. Although the latter is better when they are already on their way to adulthood, as they will be able to make decisions if a problem arises, such as a dog fight or the animal tries to get off the leash.
In any case, Nikola Bruni admits, we must be aware that this is a learning process; we must be patient with the little ones and not criticize or scold them when they do something wrong, such as putting the food in the dirty bowl. We have to teach them so that they grow up in a responsible and respectful home with the animals.