Pets and kids are adorable together. But they’re not just cute, they’re beneficial companions too. As many as 90 percent of all children have grown up with a pet, writes Dr. Gail F. Melson, author of “Why the Wild Things Are: Animals in the Lives of Children.” When your kids and your pets play, they keep each other healthy and happy, fostering cognitive and emotional growth. This summer, you can make the most of your kids and dogs play time with few simple toys and a fun-loving attitude.
It’s a classic, and it works even better with a Chuckit! or Dogobie throwing disk. Fetch offers great exercise and it’s easy as pie. The ASPCA recommends you ensure your kids know the correct way for their pup to retrieve the fetch toy, which is to drop the toy at their feet. This doesn’t come easy to most dogs, so be sure to reward them with a treat for dropping the toy correctly.
2. Blowing Bubbles
Dogs and cats love to chase bubbles, and kids love to blow them. Bubbles make for hours of endless fun for young children, as long as you purchase non-toxic, edible bubbles for pets and children like Bubble Buddy, which even features sizzlin’ bacon-flavored bubbles.
3. Hide and Seek
Most playful dogs have a natural inclination to play hide and seek, and it’s a game you can play indoors or outdoors. Supply your child with a fist full of treats, show them to your dog, then put him in the “sit” or “stay” position (or hold him back). Allow your child to call the dog’s name once and instruct them to hide in an easily accessible place. As the game continues, your child can raise the stakes by hiding in a more difficult place. For an added bonus, give the dog chicken or cheese, they’ll love it.
4. Find the Toy
This game can be taught to most dogs, but it requires a lot of patience and discipline. According to “The Week,” there is a dog named Chaser that can understand 1,022 words, and most of them are specific toys. The way we see it, if your kid can teach your dog to differentiate between three or four toys you’ve got a very disciplined kid and a great dog. To teach the dog the name of a toy, simply work with one toy at a time. Tell your child to repeat the name of the toy over and over, then hide it and have the dog find it. After a few days, add a different toy, focus on the new toy, then go back and practice with the old toy. Although Chaser’s owners spent four to five hours per day teaching him, one to two hours should do the trick. At the end of the summer, you’ll have the best trained pooch (and kid) on the block.
Any canine-inclusive games should have ground rules, especially if the child is young or the dog is new. Children should be taught that bared teeth and wrinkled noses mean the dog may snap if the toy is taken, and they should get an adult. If behavior persists, a Petsafe remote training collar or obedience class might be considered. Children should be taught to respect the dog’s space and never startle, hit or pinch the dog.