MowWow Animals A Curriculum in Humane Education

LESSON 3:
Animals We Call Pets

Goal: To understand what a pet is and why pets need appropriate, loving, and responsible care.

Content: The focus of this lesson is domesticated animals, primarily those we call pets. Children are asked to think about what defines a pet and why we keep pets. The animated feature contrasts the treatment given to two different dogs, one of whom is chained outdoors and ignored, and another with whom a child is playing inside the home. The feature encourages children to ask what a pet needs in order to be happy. There is also a worksheet accompanying Activity 1 titled “May I Meet the Dog?” available for download that teaches children how to approach a dog safely. In this lesson:

  • Children will recognize the physical and emotional needs of animals who are pets. Children will develop character and a sense of responsibility by learning that pets require care and protection.
  • Children will develop empathy for animals by seeing how their own needs and happiness are similar to those of animals.
  • Children will learn about the joys of having the companionship of domestic animals.

What You Need to Do

  • Watch Mow Wow’s animated movie with the students.
  • Follow the movie with questions, discussion, and activities.
  • Use the worksheet “May I Meet the Dog?” for a lesson in safety around new dogs.
  • Close the lesson with the poems provided.

Note: Our lesson is designed for easy adaptation to the age and level of your class. You can simply illustrate the points we are making, using the examples and questions we provide, or you can amend the lesson. There is a wealth of material available on the nature and care of pets, and you can expand this lesson with that material. We provide a short grade-appropriate resource list for your reference.

What You Need for This Lesson

For the activities, we recommend you have crayons or markers, drawing or colored paper, paste, poster boards or large sheets of colored paper, and paper bags for making masks.

Note: Recommended books and online resources are listed at the end of this lesson.

Let's Begin!

Mow Wow Movie

Prior to showing your students the animated feature Animals Have Feelings Too, ask your students to tell you what a pet is. Who in the class has a pet? How many and what kind? What are their names? All kinds of animals will be included in addition to dogs and cats—possibly fish, birds, turtles, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, lizards, snakes, and horses. Ask your students to describe their pets and how they take care of them. Then show the movie.

If you have projection capability in your classroom, hook your computer up to your screen to watch the Mow Wow movie Animals Have Feelings Too, which lasts less than one minute, with your class. If your classroom lacks computer capability, you can print screen shots and use these to explain the movie to your class. After watching the movie, lead your class in a discussion of it.

Animals Have Feelings Too

Day and Night Movie Poster

Click here to watch the movie

Focus of the Discussion

The animated movie focuses on pets and their need for proper care. Part of caring for pets is realizing that they have feelings and that their emotional life needs care too. In return, pets give wonderful and important companionship and enrichment to people.

Below are questions that will spur student discussion. Suggested discussion points and background information related to the movie appear in italics following each question.

Note: Glossary words appear in bold.

Questions

Note: Please be aware that the questions range from simple to more complex and the more complex questions are designed to stimulate discussion.

  • 1. What does the movie show? Which dog seems happy, and which one is sad? What feelings do animals have?

Dogs chained in the backyard, living in isolation, and ignored become very unhappy. Dogs are sociable animals, and they suffer when left alone for extended periods of time. They can develop bad behaviors, such as excessive barking, when they don’t get the care and companionship that they need. In the movie, the dog in the backyard needs the companionship and attention of the girl who is feeding him, but she is too busy talking on the phone to think of playing with him. On the other hand, the dog living inside the family home has companionship—someone to play with—and he receives lots of attention. Dogs also need to get exercise; this helps keep them happy and healthy.

Animals seem to share many feelings that people have: happiness, sadness, fear, gratitude, boredom. Scientists are doing research about the emotions and mental capabilities of animals. We are learning as well that the company of animals is good for people. In the movie, the little boy is happy when playing with his dog.

  • 2. Describe a day in the life of a happy dog: if you were a dog, how would you want your human family to treat you?

A happy dog would have attention from his human family and/or another dog for a playmate. A happy dog would get exercise and get food and water regularly. He would receive training in good behavior so that he will be likeable to his human family—for example, he would learn not to jump on people.

A happy dog would have shelter. He would have a warm and safe place to spend the night. He would not have to be lonely.

  • 3. What are the most common kinds of pets? Where do pets usually live, and who takes care of them?

Possible answers include cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, fish, turtles, parakeets, even horses. Pets live with their human families. Sometimes they live in cages (rabbits) or modules (hamsters). Rabbits need exercise and suffer from loneliness when they are kept inside a cage all the time. Their cages should be for safekeeping and nighttime sleep. Most likely, parents or older siblings take care of pets, and young children learn pet care from them. The correct kind of care is important for children to learn.

  • 4. Can any kind of animal be a pet? What is a domesticated animal?

Domesticated animals depend on people for their care. Farm animals and pets, such as dogs, cats, and horses, are examples of animals who have been domesticated. Pets are domesticated animals. Sometimes wild animals act tame, but they are not domesticated animals and may become wild again. Increasingly, there are laws against keeping wild animals as pets.

  • 5. If you have a pet, tell us how you know whether your pet is happy or sad. How does your pet let you know when he or she needs something from you?

In the movie, the sad dog who is chained in the backyard keeps his ears and head down. This is a sign that he is not happy. A happy dog wags his tail and looks alert, and keeps his ears up.

A happy cat will purr. She will lean on her caregiver’s leg or roll on her back to tell you she is happy. An unhappy cat may put her ears back and growl or she may hide under the bed for long periods. She may do this if she doesn’t feel well.

If an animal doesn’t feel well, the adults in the family need to take the animal to a veterinarian, just as they would take children to a doctor. If your students live with a pet, the adults in their families must learn how to care properly for that pet and teach their children how to do so as well. For example, rabbits are often mistreated because people don’t realize that they are sociable and, like dogs, suffer when they are isolated and kept alone.

Since dogs can have aggressive behavior, it is important for children to learn how to meet a new dog. They must ALWAYS ask permission of the dog’s human companion before petting or running up to the dog. Many children associate dogs with growling or barking guard dogs.

Note: After the discussion of this question might be a good time to use the worksheet “May I Meet the Dog?” to review with your students the best way to meet a new dog. See Activity 1 for suggestions.

  • 6. Describe what you and your family do to take care of your pet.

Encourage your students to talk about their family pets, where the pets live, and how their families take care of the pets.

  • 7. What does a dog or a cat need from its human family in order to be healthy and happy? What do you need in order to be happy? Is it the same or different?

Responses can include: food and water, shelter from bad weather, a safe and nice place to eat and sleep, and attention and physical care. Children will recognize these conditions as making for a happy home for themselves, as well.

  • 8. Why would an owner keep a dog chained up in the yard? Does anyone in the class know of a dog who live outdoors on a chain? Is it a short or long chain? Describe a day in the life of this dog. What could the owner do to make the dog happier?

Possible responses: the dog is a guard dog; the dog is not loved by the family; the dog makes a mess in the house; the owner is not aware of the dog’s need for inclusion with the human family. Isolation in the backyard is one of the prime causes of suffering of dogs. Humane societies are increasingly educating the public about this kind of cruelty to dogs. If a dog lives in the backyard, he should still receive attention: a walk with his owner, playtime with his family, a companion dog, and behavior training, which dogs find very interesting. Guard dogs should be cared for and exercised by adults in the family.

  • 9. What kinds of pets live indoors all the time? Why is it best to keep a pet indoors?

Many more people are keeping pets indoors. Animals are safer inside the house—from predatory wildlife or people, or from an accidental escape from the yard. Animals kept indoors are safe from accidents caused by cars and other vehicles. More and more, people are considering pets as members of the family. Types of pets living indoors include rabbits, cats, dogs, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, mice, rats, fish, snakes, lizards (geckos, iguanas, and similar reptiles), and birds (parrots, parakeets, cockatiels, canaries, finches).

  • 10. Why do we enjoy having pets?

Animals provide companionship. They do not argue with us or provoke unpleasant interactions. They are loving beings and often seem to show appreciation for their care. Many children find safety and happiness in friendship with pets.

Ask the students how it feels to have their pet give them a kiss, as we refer to a nice lick of the tongue from a dog or a cat, or a friendly nibble.

  • 11. Why do we give our pets names? What are the names of your pets?

When people recognize animals as individuals, companions, and friends, it becomes natural to give them a name. It is really fun to choose a name for a new animal friend!

  • 12. If some of your students cannot have pets, what could they do instead to enjoy the company of animals?

They can enjoy their friends’ pets. They can go to the humane society and observe the dogs, cats, and rabbits. They can help give donations of food to the animals in their local shelter. They can have a stuffed animal and give that animal a name and play at caring for him.

Closing Poems

Pets and their interactions with their human companions are a frequent theme in poetry. Your students might enjoy these poems about common household pets. After you read each poem aloud, ask your students to write or talk about their reactions and their feelings.

dog poem

Untitled

My sunshine doesn’t come from the skies,
It comes from the love in my dog’s eyes.

Unknown Poet

 

Your Friend

Perhaps you think I do not earn
My board and all my keep.
But who gives you security
When you are fast asleep?
Who, when the master’s out of town
keeps beggar folk at bay,
And gives you sweet companionship
When you’re alone all day?
With every bark and loving sign,
Let me be yours and you be mine.
Love me, train me, let me be
Your closest friend eternally.

Anonymous

cat mouse

What Is a Cat?

Gentle eyes that see so much,
paws that have
the quiet touch.

Purrs to signal
“all is well”
and show more love
than words can tell.

Graceful movements
touched with pride,
a calming presence
by our side.

A friendship
that will last and grow,
small wonder
why we love them so.

Author Unknown


bunny poem

This Little Bunny

This little bunny has two pink eyes.
This little bunny is very wise.
This little bunny is soft as silk.
This little bunny is white as milk.
This little bunny nibbles away,
At cabbages and carrots the livelong day.

Anonymous

Activities

  • 1. Teach your students how to approach a dog safely by referring to the first page of the worksheet “May I Meet the Dog?” For younger students, complete the exercise on the second page as a class; read each story aloud and open a discussion before providing the answer.

    Older students can work in pairs or small groups to talk about each story and provide an answer and then discuss their answers as a class.

    As a followup activity that is fun for younger students, divide the class into groups of three and ask each group to role-play the safe way to meet a dog: one student can pretend to be the dog, another the dog’s person, and a third the person who wants to make friends with the dog.
  • Click here to download the worksheet “May I Meet the Dog?”

  • 2. Ask students whose families have pets to bring in snapshots of their pets. Have the entire class group the photographs according to the kind of pet. Create posters by arranging the snapshots with the pets’ names written below.
  • 3. Have your students draw pictures of their favorite kinds of animals. Ask them to explain to the class which animals they’ve drawn and why the animals they’ve drawn are their favorite animals—what do they like about these animals?
  • 4. Ask students what their favorite names are for dogs, cats, rabbits, and other pets.
  • 5. Help your students create animal masks out of paper bags and then ask them to role-play in pairs by talking to each other as if they were two animals engaged in a conversation or as if they were an animal talking to a person. Then discuss what the animals said and why.
  • 6. Ask your students to draw pictures of dogs who are happy.
  • 7. Take your class to a local animal shelter to learn about animals who need homes.
  • 8. Invite a local humane society representative to visit your class with a friendly dog, cat, or rabbit. Encourage your students to ask questions and teach the children about these pets.
  • 9. Invite a repesentative of a service dog club to visit with a service dog (seeing or hearing) and explain to your students how this dogs helps people. Explore with your class other ways in which dogs help people (do search and rescue, work in airport security, comfort sick people, and so on).
  • 10. Have your students pretend they are a pet. Have them write a story about their day as pets—what they do, what they eat, where they sleep, and what they do for play and exercise. Do they have toys, other companion animals, favorite family members?
  • 11. Talk with your students about a veterinary office and what veterinarians do to help and take care of pets.
  • 12. Have your students learn the proper care for different kinds of pets. Help them write, or if age appropriate, have them write three points of proper care for their favorite kinds of pets.
  • 13. Ask your students to imagine they were living on a farm. Discuss as a class. What kinds of animals would live there? What kinds of care would these animals need? Which of these animals could be pets? Why?

Spelling, Vocabulary, and Writing

Suggested vocabulary words can be found in the Mow Wow Glossary. These words can be used to help your students understand the lesson but are not necessarily tailored for spelling. Each word can be written on a flashcard and discussed as a class.

Where appropriate for the age and grade level of your students, do a spelling and writing exercise with the simple animal names below. Combine this activity with drawing pictures of the animals. This exercise builds vocabulary as well as spelling and writing skills for your ELLs (English-language learners).

sleep
water
walk
play
pet
bark
tail
sad
happy
purr
meow
fish
hamster (bonus!)
exercise (bonus!)

Click here to download a student worksheet containing these words.

Older or more advanced students could answer in short simple sentences selected questions discussed in class about both Mow Wow movie.

Click here to download student worksheets containing these questions.

Kindergartners could identify sad and happy pets and say why they are sad or happy and draw and color pictures of their pets and their pets’ houses.

Click here to download a worksheet for kindergartners to identify a sad dog and a happy dog and a cat who is safe and one who is not.

Click here to download a worksheet for kindergartners to draw and color pictures of their pets in their houses.

Mow Wow Glossary

aggressive – hostile; wanting to attack.

care – attention; help; act of watching over a person or animal.

companionship – a relationship in which people, or people and animals, are friends and care for each other.

domesticated animal – an animal who is tame or trained to live in a human environment or be useful to people. Some domesticated animals are pets. Others are farm animals.

exercise – physical activity, often a healthy physical activity.

feeling – sensitivity; emotion.

guard dog – a dog who protects people and property from harm; watchdog.

healthy – producing or leading to good health such as healthy food, healthy air, healthy activities.

pet – an animal kept for companionship; a companion animal. Some domesticated animals are pets.

purr – to make a soft vibrant sound. Cats purr when they are contented, and they also purr when they are frightened or not feeling well.

sociable animal – a friendly animal; an animal who enjoys being with people and other animals.

training – the process of teaching a skill or a behavior.

Click here to download a worksheet for students to answer questions that contain a Glossary word or expression.

Suggested Online Resources

Do’s and Don’ts Around Dogs:
http://www.petloveshack.com/dontdog.html

Green Iguana Society Kids’ Club:
http://www.greenigsociety.org/kidsclub.htm

PBS Kids: It’s My Life—Why We Have Pets:
http://pbskids.org/itsmylife/family/pets/index.html

DLTK’s Crafts for Kids—Pet Animals Activities:
http://www.dltk-kids.com/animals/pets.html

Suggested Books

Can I Have a Pet?, Gwendolyn Hudson Hooks

Guinea Pig, Angela Royston

Hamsters, Jennifer Blizen Gillis

Farm Animals, Nancy Dickmann

Kamie Cat’s Terrible Night, Sheila Hamanaka

Pablo Puppy’s Search for the Perfect Person, Sheila Hamanaka

Note: The above books are available in Spanish-language editions.

The Dog Who Loved Tortillas/La perrita que le encantaban las tortillas, Benjamin Alire Saenz

My Cat, Boots/Mi gatita, Botas: A Bilingual Storybook, Darleen Garcia Gardner