Dr Lisa Chimes: What Your Pet Is Really Teaching Your Kids

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Jun 07, 2022

Dr Lisa Chimes is best known from TV shows, Bondi Vet and Dr Lisa to the Rescue. She is also the founder of DOG by Dr Lisa, luxury skin and coat care for dogs. Here she explains what your pet is teaching your kids.

As a vet of 15 years and mother to 4 children, I get to feel the warm and fuzzies watching children interact with their pet on a daily basis. The bond between child and pet is undeniably adorable as well as being beneficial to a child’s emotional, social and cognitive development

Pet ownership allows kids to care for someone other than themselves. Children learn what care fundamentally involves: shelter, warmth, food and water, not to mention love and empathy. Depending on a child’s age, they will learn anything from loyalty and trust through to responsibility and social skills.

Perhaps most importantly, children experience the pure joy pet ownership brings. From cuddly companionship to playing, pets make children feel better and have proven to reduce anxiety, providing assistance in emotional regulation.

Getting your kids involved in dog training is a wonderful way to encourage responsibility and enhance problem-solving skills. Your child will develop a powerful bond with the family dog, improving confidence for kids and dogs alike. Children of all ages can participate too, just ensure the tasks are age-appropriate and there’s always adult supervision.


Dog Training 101:

  1. Teach your kids to read your dog’s body language – this will help them understand when your dog is not enjoying an encounter, thereby reducing stress for your dog.
  2. Put a Kids Belt Bag on your child – fill the silicone treat pouch with small pieces of treats, like our Crumble. This provides your child with round the clock access to treats so they can reward your dog throughout the day. By doing this, you are helping your dog identify your child as someone positive, which will foster mutual respect between them.
  3. Teach kids the basics of positive reinforcement; it’s when we reward the correct behaviour and ignore the wrong behaviour.
  4. Demonstrate how to entice your dog to perform a behaviour through “capturing” (waiting for the behaviour to be offered) or “luring” (using a treat in their hand to guide your dog into a position).
  5. Add in a cue word to pair the behaviour with the action.
  6. Teach kids to feed treats with an open hand so little fingers are protected. Alternatively, a treat can be dropped on the floor.
  7. Keep training sessions short and sweet, no more than 5-10 minutes to begin with (potentially shorter for young puppies who may get distracted easily). Repeat the activity regularly.

Teach ‘Sit’

An excellent cue to begin with, demonstrate the above to your child. Using a treat to lure, hold the treat over the dog’s nose and move backwards over the dog’s eyes. Your dog will inadvertently sit while focusing on the treat. Use the cue word ‘sit’ as your dog makes the movement and reward instantly. Repeat 5 times.

So what animals make the best pets for children?

Dogs make wonderful pets for children; they crave social contact and interaction, love playing and are intelligent. However it’s important to consider temperament, size and energy level.

All dogs require significant commitment to ensure they’re effectively socialised, trained and stimulated. There are a number of purebreds which are popular among young families, however rescue dogs can be just as wonderful. We have two-rescue Poodle-crosses who are fabulous friends to our 4 children.

Cats can make excellent companions but it really comes down to their individual personality. Whether it’s an adult cat that has been socialised with children, or a kitten, cats can be perfect for families who prefer a more independent pet.

Birds and fish can make an excellent introduction to pet ownership, especially for more nervous kids. Young children won’t be able to do as much as they would with a dog or cat, but they can be involved in feeding and cleaning their environment.

Guinea pigs, mice and rats are great. Rats make good pets for kids, they’re quite intelligent and tend to be very adaptable. Rabbits are a little more risky for very young children. They can be wriggly and accidents can happen if they fall out of a child’s arms, so it’s best to get a rabbit once your children are old enough to be taught how to properly care for them.

More about Dr Lisa Chimes

Dr Lisa Chimes is best known from TV shows, Bondi Vet and Dr Lisa to the Rescue. She is also the founder of DOG by Dr Lisa, luxury skin and coat care for dogs. DOG by Dr Lisa is an Australian product range that is natural and safe for dogs and the humans who love them while ensuring minimum harm to our planet. The product range includes a wash, leave-in conditioner, dog cologne, dog wipes, brushes, dog wee cleaner, ponchos, belt bags, training treats and accessories. She has also just launched CAT by Dr Lisa which includes wipes and a rake and slicker brush


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