Show Your Pet Some Love!

Do you have a pet? Talk with your child about what your pet needs (water, food, shelter, exercise, cleaning, medicine, affection, etc.). Show your child how he or she can help care for your pet (or a stuffed animal if you do not have a pet). Let your child be responsible for feeding and/or walking your pet. Caring for a pet can help teach your child responsibility and empathy.

Age-appropriate Adaptations:

  • Two-year-olds—Does your child know what to do when she meets a new dog? Discuss with your child how it is important to gain the owner’s permission before approaching the dog. Then you should allow the dog to smell you before petting him. Practice what she should do using a stuffed animal.
  • Three-year-olds—Check out a virtual zoo or farm to see examples of animals up close (for ideas, see: How are pets different from wild animals? Spend time comparing their various needs, habitats, and behaviors.
  • Four-/Five-year-olds—Ask your child how he can tell what your pet is feeling? What are some signals that your pet gives that may show what he is feeling (i.e., wagging tail, lowering ears, barking/whimpering, meowing/purring, rubbing up against you, etc.)? Discuss why it’s important to pay attention to animals’ feelings.

Skills Supported: zoology (animal needs and behaviors), responsibility, feelings, empathy, comparisons, personal safety