Kids talk you into a pet?

4-H can help you with your pets.

Pocket pets, rabbits, cavies, cats and dogs, oh my! Never fear, Michigan 4-H is here to help you get a handle on those animals. Who doesn’t love a cute puppy or kitten? The problem is they grow up and are a lot of responsibility for your household. Hopefully you gave this purchase a great deal of thought and carefully considered how you and your family would care for your new pet. If it was more of a spontaneous decision, it’s OK, it happens to the best of us. But now you need to make a plan to ensure the safety and well-being of your new pet. When you get frustrated, I would encourage you to remember the moment of joy when you agreed to the pet or the huge smile that appeared on that special someone’s face when they received the pet. It is that moment that will get you through the tough times.

Small animals of all kinds make great pets, provide hours of therapy and enjoyment to us and they can make great 4-H projects. Your first order of business is making sure you can provide food, shelter and medical care to your new pet. Then you need to work on socializing and bonding with your pet. Helping your pet learn the rules of the house and expectations for behavior requires you and your family to be consistent. Handling your pet properly is very important and you can get help in learning how to work with your pet from others who have experience. One such source may be a local 4-H leader. 4-H leaders are commonly found to help with dogs, rabbits and cavies. They can help you learn how to handle them for show and basic obedience.

Michigan State University Extension offers a variety of rabbit resources that include sheets on providing care and showing your rabbits and cavies. They also provide information on cats and dogs under the companion animals section of the MSU Extension website. Members and leaders can learn about their animals and spend time with friends. Members can just enjoy their animals at home, take them to the fair, a show and even participate in contests. Getting Fido to sit, your bunny to pose, learning the characteristics of your favorite rabbit breeds, learning to properly groom your cavy and having an obedient dog can be just the beginning to your 4-H experience.

Check with your Michigan State University Extension county office for more details and the availability in your area. Local pet stores, community education programs and kennel clubs may also offer programs.

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