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Teaching Kids Responsible Pet Care

So, your child wants their own pet. We both know this means more work for you, the parent. There is not much that is more exciting to a child than the prospect of a new pet. The problem is, most of the time the excitement wears off and the responsibilities get tossed aside. So what do you do? 

New pet rush and crash

I believe the best way to counteract the “new pet rush and crash” is to find ways to keep your child interested in their new companion. 4-H is a fantastic way to do just this. It’s an organization that provides a path for kids to interact with their pets while also learning about them. 4-H members spend time with their pets at home as well as in groups and at competitions. The new pet enjoyment doesn’t wear off because there is continued interaction within a group atmosphere. 

4-H basics

4-H stands for “head” “heart” “hands” and “health”. When people think about 4-H they tend to think about farming, but it’s not just for kids living in rural areas anymore. There are several 4-H clubs that meet and are accessible to kids across America. They describe themselves as, “America’s largest youth development organization—empowering nearly six million young people with the skills to lead for a lifetime.” 

Make it group-oriented

4-H teaches young people responsibility and leadership skills that last a lifetime. Members are encouraged to keep meticulous records, learn safe handling skills, anatomy, and have a strong knowledge of health and illnesses related to their pet. Being part of a group makes pet ownership even more fun and the competitive aspect of preparing your pet and yourself for a show gives children a leg up on test preparation later in life.  Standing up in front of a crowd with your peers and answering questions from a judge will help kids learn public speaking skills. Children get more comfortable in uncomfortable situations by repetition. After several shows, they won’t think twice about the crowd. 

Dreams do come true

The knowledge that I gained in 4-H helped me go from adopting pets to running a pet service business today. My ability to speak clearly, without fear in front of a crowd, my record keeping skills, the ability to read and retain information, and my knowledge of animals help me tremendously in my daily life as an adult. I use all of these skills daily as a small business owner and I credit my time in 4-H with giving me the courage and knowhow to graduate college, work in a public institution, and eventually start my own pet service business. 

Get going

Take your kids with you to make pet ownership a reality. Find a pet that fits well with your family’s lifestyle and is something your kids will be able to help care for. Then, find a group either online or in person to help your kids get past that new pet rush and crash. Have fun!

About the Author

Jessica Hampton-Diamond is the co-founder and owner of Platinum Leash Pet Care Company located in Portland, Oregon. A mother of three and a pet parent, she writes about animals, people, parenting, and adoption.


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