Few kids wouldn’t trade all the bicycles and BB guns in the world for the gift of a puppy. As surely as a pup will steal your heart, however, it will break it if not properly cared for. That’s just one of many lessons that a child who is given a pup will learn over time. A dog can be the perfect gift to help teach youngsters about caring for animals and the importance of discipline in general. Kids who learn to care for a dog and understand that the animal relies on them for everything–from food and water to love and guidance–often develop an appreciation for what it takes to be a responsible individual.
A DOG CAN TEACH A CHILD ABOUT LOVE. RESPONSIBILITY, DISCIPLINE AND DEATH
While it’s tempting to surprise your child with the gift of a puppy, it’s wiser to involve your kid in the educational process of looking at the differing virtues of various breeds, understanding what’s required to raise and train a pup, and examining how much time is involved, Only after you’re certain your son or daughter is ready for such a commitment should you seriously entertain the idea of purchasing a pup.
Beyond merely showing your child how to care for the dog, share in teaching your son or daughter how to train your pup to obey basic commands. The process of training a dog, to be sure, begins by teaching its owner how to train Pup. Your child will need to learn the importance of being consistent with commands, correcting the dog when it makes mistakes and rewarding it when it has done well–an important lesson in the ways of the world. In a family setting, it’s important that Pup come to understand who is boss and that it knows it won’t be able to get away with bad behavior. Too often, many family members bombard the dog with commands but never make the dog perform the tasks asked of it; thus, in the end, only encouraging it to disobey. When it comes time to take Pup afield, that willfulness will be problematic.
It’s also important to note that young children are more prone than any other age group to being bitten by dogs. There are several reasons for this. First off, young kids often stand about eye-level with many medium to large size dogs, so when they put their faces next to dogs’ faces, it’s sometimes construed by the dogs as a threatening gesture. This also explains why so many kids who are bit by dogs suffer bites to the face. Another reason for this phenomenon is that kids often pull on a dog’s ears or tail, not understanding that they are hurting the animal. Older dogs seem especially sensitive to this kind of harassment, so caution youngsters against this to prevent any dog-child mishaps.
Lastly, a dog will teach your son or daughter about the cycle of life–including the finality of death and the heartache of saying goodbye to a cherished companion for the last time. It’s in that lesson that a person comes to value the treasure of life for the gift that it is.
For anyone contemplating starting someone on the rood to dog ownership and training, Gene Hill’s Sunlight and Shadows is a delightful read that is not a how-to book per se but is extraordinarily revealing about life shared with dogs. It is a collection of essays from one of America’s greatest sporting authors. Few people captured the joy and melancholy that surrounds dog ownership any better than the late Gene Hill. The book is available from Wilderness Adventures Press;