How to raise your child to be an animal lover

A child with a llama

Raising your child to be an animal lover is about more than teaching compassion towards our furry friends. Kids who learn to be caring towards animals also learn important skills they can carry with them into adulthood, like empathy, self-confidence, and leadership.

As an animal-loving parent, how can you help foster this same love for animals in your children? Here are a few ways to show your kids just how wonderful animals are.

1. Teach your child how to interact with animals

Teaching your children appropriate ways to interact with animals is a great first step toward them learning empathy and compassion.

If you currently have pets or you plan to adopt in the future, start by helping your child understand your pet’s body language. This not only helps to keep both your child and pet safe, but it also helps them build a strong, positive relationship with each other.  

Even if you don’t currently have a pet, it’s important to emphasize to your child the appropriate ways to handle animals, like when to (and when not to) pet them and how to be gentle when handling.

Do you have young children and a dog?

The expert trainers at AHS offer a free seminar with detailed instructions and resources on raising kids with dogs. Register for an upcoming Raising Kids and Canines webinar.

2. Involve your child in your pet’s daily care

If you currently have a pet, involving your child in their daily routine is a great way to show them the responsibility, care, and compassion that goes into having a pet.

Through daily activities like feeding your pet, filling water dishes, or cleaning cages, your child can gain a better understanding of the amount of time and attention that animals need. Activities like daily brushing, walks, or playtime outside can also help foster a loving bond between your child and your pet.

Involving your child in training is another great way to help build trust between your child and your pet, as well as strengthen their bond. 

3. Immerse your child in animal-related books, movies, and TV shows

There are so many books, movies, and TV shows that feature animals as main characters. These stories can help your child build connections and learn empathy for real-life animals.

Whether you read a fun, animal-related book at bedtime or you plan an animal-related family movie night, any chance to immerse your child in all things animal is always encouraged. 

Want to take animal-related story time to the next level? Consider volunteering for the Rescue Readers program at Animal Humane Society. Your child can provide soothing company to the dogs, cats, and critters awaiting adoption in our shelters by reading to them.

4. Sign your child up for fun, animal-related education programs

Summer camp at Animal Humane Society

The best way to foster a love for animals in your child is to give them an opportunity to learn about and interact with animals first-hand.

Animal Humane Society offers a variety of camps and educational programs for children to explore their interests, interact with animals, and nurture their compassion for all living things.

From animal-filled summer and day camps to chances to explore animal-related careers, education programs at AHS help foster a passion and love for all animals. Programs are available for children grades 3-10.

5. Get outside as often as possible

An appreciation for animals starts with an appreciation for nature. Getting outside and seeing all of the wonder that the world has to offer is a great way to get your child interested in wildlife.

Whether you’re taking daily walks, planning a family hike, or tossing a ball around in the backyard, spending time outdoors creates spontaneous learning opportunities that you can’t get any other way.

You can learn about animals in their natural habitats, and see ecosystems in action!

6. Set an example by volunteering your time with animals

Children learn best by watching their parents, and that includes showing compassion toward animals.

An Animal Humane Society volunteer with a dog

By volunteering with an animal organization, you can share first-hand experiences about the wonders of animals with your child, all while helping these organizations provide more care and resources to animals in need.

Whether this looks like spending a few hours a week in your local animal shelter or volunteering to foster an animal in your home, donating your time to help animals is a great example for your child of empathy and compassion.

AHS is currently accepting applications for many different volunteer roles including in-shelter volunteers, transport drivers, and foster volunteers. Learn more about our volunteer opportunities and complete an application.

Raising a future animal lover benefits everyone

By instilling a love of animals in your child from a young age, you can help them grow to be kind, compassionate adults that change the world. Use these tips to start spreading your passion for living things today.

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