Recently, my son and I made the decision to get a puppy. I knew, more than him, that it would be hard work (especially on my part). Yet, when we saw a Facebook post about Golden Retriever puppies, we knew it was the right time, and we’ve never looked back.
I didn’t grow up with dogs in my house because my parents never had any pets. So, having pets in my teenage and adults has been a learning process. Now I think pets are amazing and loving, but they can also teach our children many lessons—lessons that help shape them into caring and compassionate adults. These are the lessons I’ve noticed my son has learned.
Our puppy has been all over the place and biting everything. Something that we constantly talk about in our household is “how can we be a problem solver?” When our puppy, Marlowe, started chewing on Claude’s toys, he would get very upset. So, I asked him, “how can we solve this problem?” and he had no idea. These are my favorite moments! I can see him learning important lessons, like sometimes we don’t have an answer to our problems so we have to do some research and hard thinking.
There are many times that Claude gets frustrated with our puppy. During these times, we reflect on how animals, just like humans, have feelings, too. Claude might play with Marlowe too hard and then she will whimper. That’s when we have the conversation of why that hurt and how we can consider her feelings next time we play. These lessons are very important when translated to human friendships and how other people should be treated. Claude is an only child so it can be difficult for him to interact with feelings. Since he is with our dogs a lot, this gives him the opportunity to practice regulating his own emotions and reading others.
This one is HUGE! I’ve always expressed to Claude the importance of asking an owner if he can pet their dog before he does it. This is important for many reasons, but the main one is that the dog has an owner and we need to be mindful of that. Another reason is that there are dogs that don’t like to be pet or have a specific job they need to do. Teaching kids how to ask is important. This will also be translated to the classroom into asking others for consent first and acknowledging their property.
There are many more difficult lessons we will learn along the way, but we couldn’t imagine life without our furry friends! They add so many fun moments to our lives and are great company when we are feeling sad. Pets are huge commitments, so it’s important that families and kids know that; but if everyone is willing to commit, then everyone can learn more about patience, feelings, and personal space.