Teaching children from a young age to not only love animals, but to also cherish and respect them is very important. Doing so is a great way to raise socially aware children who are empathetic and passionate about helping others, especially those who can’t help themselves.

One of the very best ways to teach children to love animals is to allow them to interact with them. The more you interact with animals, the more respect you will gain for them as you see their beautiful personalities shining through.

If you would love to help out animals in your own home, consider adopting a pet from a local shelter. While it can be tempting to adopt a puppy or tiny kitten, consider the fact that the puppy will grow out of its puppy phase before you know it. Adult dogs and cats are easier to train and will have a more predictable personality. Puppies almost always find homes, whereas adult dogs and cats can spend years in shelters.

One of the best places to teach your children how to protect and care for dogs and cats are at a shelter where you can volunteer to groom, play with and walk the dogs and cats as well as feed them and clean out enclosures.

Children’s books are an amazing way to teach life lessons that kids can grasp on to.  Visit your local book shop or even library to find books about animals.

At the end of the day, much of teaching children to love and respect animals and nature comes from being a good example.  Kids learn by observing what the adults and other people around them do. One of the best ways to get your kids to respect animals is to model behaviour that respects animals. That means not hitting or kicking pets and not shouting at or punishing your pets.

Being kind to all animals can be a challenge. It means not killing spiders or moths you find in the house and using humane traps to catch mice or rodents. This sends a message to your kids that’s important to respect all living creatures. Avoid entertainment that harms animals so don’t go to circuses that use animals in their acts.

If you do have a dog or cat, give your child some responsibilities. Even the youngest of children can take care of filling up a cat’s water bowl or playing fetch with the dog. Assigning your child responsibilities related to the pet will help him or her see how his or her actions affect the animal’s well-being.

Teach your children how to treat animals and how behave around them. Explain how to stroke pets gently and never to tease them or pull their fur or tails.  Tell your child not to bother a dog who is sleeping or eating. It’s important to teach children how to interact with other people’s pets and dogs that they may come across out in public.  

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