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Age-appropriate pets for children

Pets teach kids about empathy and responsibility and provide lower stress and love. As parents, you must provide your children and pets with positive interaction, and always keep in mind that safety is first.

If you include pets in your children’s lives, you’ll enable them to make their fondest memories. But, you need to choose age-appropriate pets for them.

You should always supervise their interactions. You need to teach your children at any age what is appropriate and what is safe. We recommend fostering a pet for a shelter or a rescue group before officially adopting it.

You need to teach a child proper pet behavior. Your children should speak to their pets in soft tones, and play non-contact games with them like wand toys for their cat or fetch for their dog. Depending on your child’s age, the following pet will make the perfect pets for them.

Age-appropriate pets for infants 

Until they turn one, we recommend introducing your child to the pet already in your house instead of getting a new one. A pet also needs time to adapt. If you had a pet before your baby came, introduce the baby gradually, and supervise every interaction. 

Toddlers

At ages 1-2, you should start with shelf pets like a hermit crab or fish that are safely contained in a protective enclosure. There isn’t a threat they can hurt the children. Both the pet and your children are small creatures that need limited independence. You should encourage your children to be curious about the pets and answer all their questions.

Age-appropriate pets for preschool kids

We recommend getting a guinea pig at ages 3-4. They’re as affectionate as your preschooler is, and they won’t evoke any harm. At these ages, children can take some basic responsibilities as feeding their pets and refilling their bottles with water.

Grade school 

When children are five and older, their attention span grows, so you can introduce a variety of pets. You can ask your children to clean the pets’ habitats, and you can allow them to have longer interactions. You should introduce dogs after they’re five. It’s best to introduce hamsters or gerbils to a child after the age of eight. When they start in grade school, they’re ready to take on more responsibilities, just as they can do with chores and school.

Benefits of pet ownership for your children

  • Pets will teach your children responsibility. When you assign an age-appropriate care task and explain to them the importance of the tasks, your children will keep up with their tasks and follow through. 
  • Pets will teach your children empathy. Children are smart, and they will understand that pets have the same feelings as they have just express them differently. They’ll learn how to interpret the pet’s body language and its needs. This is important for identifying with others. You’ll see your children how they pet them as they read. They’ll stop and show them pictures and ask questions. 
  • Pets will teach children how to care for others. 
  • Pets are good for children’s health. Having a pet can prevent allergies in children. Also, a dog will motivate children to exercise – they’ll walk and read with their dog, play fetch, and roll around. These things are good for burning calories and building muscles. 

Pets

5 signs showing your dog needs a professional dog trainer

Don’t be ashamed of that, it isn’t a bad thing at all. There are minor issues that can turn into big problems. These issues may not even seem like behavior problems to you now, but they can grow into major disturbances.

Most dog owners need to go to an obedience class or hire a professional dog trainer at some time, whether they’d like to admit it or not. 

Your best choice is to hire a professional dog trainer at the first sign rather than wait until someone is harmed. Even if your loving dog means well, bad behavior is frowned upon and it can lead to legal issues. It’s only our responsibility to ensure our dogs are good canine neighbors! So, if you notice any of the following signs, you’ll need to hire a dog trainer.

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Pulling on the leash

This may seem like a minor behavior, but it can grow into something more. First, if your dog constantly drags you around, it is uncomfortable and annoying. But most importantly, this means you’re not in control at all and the dog will take you wherever he wants to go. 

Heavy pulling can strain your muscles and it can even drag you to the ground. This is dangerous for everyone around, not only you, especially when your dog will notice a strange person or another dog. 

Jumping

When dogs jump, they show their affection and love, but it’s extremely inappropriate. Jumping may hurt. People around you don’t want to be knocked over and scratched. Also, this can lead to serious injuries. Even if your dog is friendly, make sure your dog knows that jumping on people is not an option. To be a responsible dog owner you need to show your dog ways to display love and affection that don’t hurt or scare anyone.

Nipping/Growling

Nipping and growling are the earliest signs of aggression in dogs. Dogs that started with light warning nips and growls escalated into full-blown attacks. So, the most serious bites come from those nips and growls. You need to teach your dog that behavior is unacceptable, no matter when or why the dog has nipped or growled at anyone. This is a warning sign indicating to hire a professional trainer immediately since this danger could pose if it escalates.  

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Guarding objects

Even if someone is trying to take your dog’s favorite bone, he should never bite or growl at anyone. Resource guarding is a serious problem and should be addressed by a trainer instantly. The dog might decide to resource guard anything from a treat, toy, bone, to bed, chair, couch, etc. This means the dog is claiming that a particular item is his or hers and will be aggressively defended if needed.

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Door bolting

Door bolting is a serious issue that many dog owners face. This is considered a serious problem since it poses a safety concern to both the public and your dog. When your dog escapes from your house, he could easily wind up in dangerous traffic or run far away. Whatever his or her reason is, the dog should know to stay inside your house unless you release him for a walk.

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Pets

How to train your hyperactive dog

High-energy dogs are charming for their happy temperaments and big personalities, but shelters are full of former pets deemed “too much to handle.”

If you go on two walks daily and spend many hours playing fetch, but your dog is still running around you, then welcome to the club of owners raising a hyperactive dog. 

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These seemingly tireless canines are a joy to have them, but admit it, training that wriggly mass of fur was very hard. If you are an owner of a hyperactive dog, don’t give up on training. Instead, try the following tips to focus your dog’s energy on learning new skills.

Exercise before training 

Imagine a six-year-old forced to sit in school all day without taking any breaks for recess. They’ll flounder in their seat and do anything except what you want them to do. That’s exactly how your dog will behave if you try to train him without first releasing some of his energy. The training sessions need to be structured times when the dog has a full focus on you. Your chances are higher at keeping his attention if you schedule your sessions for right after he gets back from his walk or after a rousing game of fetch.

Make training fun for your hyperactive dog

If your dog is not interested in what you want him to do, you’ll never be able to force him to do anything. The dogs must have the desire to train with their owners. The best way to do that is to make the training fun.  If the dog expects to be yelled at or if you’re going to end up frustrated or mad, he will not be willing to participate in the training. Make it a positive atmosphere by being enthusiastic and upbeat. 

Plan your training “Curriculum” for your hyperactive dog

The first commands you teach him should be ones that will make future training. One of the biggest problems with training hyperactive dogs is they get too excited during the training, and they can’t concentrate on what you’re saying. If you experience this, you need to focus on skills that improve impulse control. “Leave it,” “go to your mat,” and “calm,” are all obedience tricks that will definitely come in handy when teaching other skills.

Take advantage of learning opportunities

When they want something, no matter what that is, you need to make them work to get it. If they want to eat, make them sit and “leave it” before allowing them to dig in. If they want your attention, just start scratching when they’ve shown you how well they’ve mastered the “calm” command. Making them earn things daily will keep their bodies and brains working to spend more energy.

How to Calm a Hyperactive Dog

Learn the power of redirection

When your dog is barking, running, and jumping, you as a frustrated pet owner probably try to stifle that energy just to earn a second of calmness. However, punishing the dog isn’t going to help. You should redirect the activity instead of trying to stop it. Hyperactivity is usually connected with an eagerness to please and a keen intellect. So, if you give your hyperactive dog a task at which he can use his never-ending energy, it is a win-win! Your dog will be still excited and active, but he will be doing something productive. 

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Training a hyperactive dog will take commitment and patience. It won’t always be fun and easy, but it’ll be definitely worth it. Don’t let small backsets disappoint you. Don’t give up on your dog.

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Why your dog isn’t listening to your commands?

Although most dogs want to engage with their owners and are willing to please them, don’t forget that the dogs are opportunists. There are times when no matter what you do, something else is more interesting to them.

Your dog would rather take the steak right off your plate than lie on their bed. But, there are no bad dogs – there are dogs that lack training.

If you think your dog is not interested in listening to you, you might want to question yourself what is the reason for that. Usually, your dog isn’t being strong-willed or stubborn – it can be a training or communication issue.

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Weak rewards

You’ve likely met the dog that performs obedience commands and tricks simply because it loves his owner. But most dogs are not going to do something just because they love you. They are likely to do what provides them with the highest reward. If you tell your canine friend to be calm and offer a delicious treat, your dog is going to oblige, just because they’re getting something out of it. But, if you tell your dog to sit and offer nothing, they may just ignore you. 

Shaping behavior with treats, toys, and food is important in the foundations of obedience training. You need to make obeying commands fun for your friend to make them find joy in working with you. 

Lacking consistency

Every trainer, regardless of their experiences and methods, will tell you that consistency is probably the key aspect of training. The more consistent you are, the more useful the training will be. Consistency provides clear rules for the dog to follow with every specific behavior they learn. 

That means it’s easier for them to understand what you want and follow through with it. And we must be extremely clear in our training since this is the only possible communication with our dogs.

Too much training

You can get a little carried away when you are teaching your furry friend something new and exciting. It’s important to remember, especially when it comes to young dogs, that patience is a virtue. You can easily overwhelm your dog with many commands that are too complex. 

Asking too much of your dogs too soon results in burnout for both owner and dog! Take a step back if your dog isn’t listening and ensure you aren’t asking too much. Sometimes the dogs don’t understand a command, so take a moment to revisit older behaviors.

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Many distractions

A park full of other dogs and people is different from the inside of your living room. Your dog is in your home daily, but he doesn’t see many other things daily. What you don’t consider as a big deal, might be a big distraction for the dog. If your dog behaves well at the park unless there is a baseball game going on, then you know that a baseball game is a distraction for your pet and you’ll need to work up to that level of disturbance.

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No consequences

Dogs need consequences just like people do. Sometimes the dog will choose to disobey regardless of the reward, no matter how well-trained they are. Besides withholding the toy or treat, giving a correction is your dog’s consequence. The correction is needed to teach your dog that good behavior comes with rewards, while bad behavior comes with negative consequences. Many trainers believe this makes training clear to dogs and gives an easy way to communicate and teach them.

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