Pets and children can form very strong bonds. Our animal companions teach children about kindness, friendship, and compassion. They also make great playmates, cuddle buddies, and take super cute photos together. However, interactions between children and pets don’t always go smoothly. In this article from Armitage Animal Hospital, a Newmarket, ON vet discusses teaching children how to interact with pets.
Involve The Child
Is it time to bring a new pet into the household? Let your child get involved in the process. Explain that pets are part of the family, and that adopting one is a lifelong commitment. Children can also help care for the pet, by handling simple tasks such as feeding your furry pal, brushing them, and giving them water.
Supervise all interactions between children and pets. Teach your little one never to grab or punch their furry friends, and definitely never pull their ears or tail. Use positive words, like ‘Pet the nice kitty softly,’ and demonstrate proper techniques. You don’t want your child to rub Fluffy’s fur the wrong way! It’s also important for children to know to never approach or pet unfamiliar animals.
Teach Body Language
Teach your child some basics of animal behavior and body language. Tail wags, for example, can be confusing to kids. Dogs wag their tails when they’re happy. A cat that is lashing her tail, however, is definitely not feeling cheerful. Make sure your child understands warning signs, such as flattened ears, hissing, growling, or trying to get away.
Dogs can get quite possessive about toys and food. (Fluffy, on the other hand, simply thinks that everything in the house is hers.) Set a ground rule about never touching Fido’s things.
Both dogs and cats are easily startled by loud noises or commotion. Explain that pets often get scared by shouting, running around, or stomping. Children should also be taught never to corner or chase pets.
All pets love treats. However, many people foods are unsafe for them. Some things—like grapes—can be fatal, even in small doses. Small items, such as many toy pieces, are also dangerous, as they can be choking hazards. Teach your child never to give pets food or toys without asking.
Please contact Armitage Animal Hospital, your Newmarket, ON vet clinic, for your family pet’s veterinary care needs. We’re here to help.