Having pets and kids can be overwhelming for all parties. Many animals get along well with kids and instinctually realize they should be treated gently and with more tolerance. However, some pets need some encouragement when first interacting with children. Additionally, children should be taught how to properly interact with animals.
When your pets and your children don’t get along, the results can be terrible. Although dog bites are fairly rare, about half of all dog bite victims in the U.S. are children. To prevent any accidents like this from occurring, we’ve outlined tips to help your pet and child get along.
You need to teach your children how to properly interact with animals. Most family pets are not naturally aggressive, but will become defensive when triggered. The following list provides things you should teach your child never to do:
1. Startle a dog. When your pet is sleeping, you should never abruptly wake him. Having a child romp around a sleeping dog is never a good idea. You should also teach your child never to pull a dogs tail at any time or stick items in his nose, mouth, or ears.
2. Messing with his stuff. Many dogs become possessive over toys, food or bones. Teach your child never to bother him when he has something he feels he owns. A dog could easily become aggressive if a child reaches out to him while he’s eating.
3. Running away. Although your children should be cautious around your dogs, they should still know that they are his master. If they become scared and run away, some dogs may react with a predatory response by chasing after the child. Teach your children to be respectful, but still stand their ground.
4. If you have a cat, please remember to tell you children that they are independent and oftentimes don’t want to be held. It is never a good idea to force a cat onto your lap and hold her there against her will.
5. Like dogs (and all animals!), cats do not want their tails or whiskers pulled on. Be sure your children understand this and treat your pet respectfully.
6. If you have a kitten, it may play rough while its young. Your kitten may bite or scratch as a method of okay. However, this can hurt your children. Be sure your kitten has toys it can play with and teach your children how to interact with your kitten when it is playing rough. Your kitten will grow out of this and learn as she ages what type of play is appropriate and what is not.
Even if you don’t have pets, you should teach your children how to interact with them. Make sure your children always ask pet parents before petting an animal. Also teach your children to never pet an unattended pet through a fence or car window.
By following these tips, you can help your pets and children have a happy relationship for years to come. Please contact us regarding our behavior specialist if you have any additional concerns.