These days our pets are treated almost as well as our children. Some get their own outfits and even strollers! Creating harmony between your littles and your furbabies is essential to promoting a safe environment. Not only are you teaching your child valuable skills for them to take out into the world, you're giving yourself peace of mind. We encourage you to take these tips into consideration when interacting with your child and their furry sibling.
Number #1: Never Leave Your Child Unsupervised With an Animal
This is a vital tip for safety. Whether it be a toddler and a puppy, or a baby and a full grown cat, being aware of their interactions is very important to keep both safe. Accidents happen for both your child and the animal. Children could smother an animal, they could get scratched, bitten or tripped, even by the most gentle and well meaning furry friend.
Number #2: Introductions Are Important
Whether you are introducing your new bundle of joy to your dog, cat or other animal, or vice versa, you want to make the best first impression possible. Teach your child how to handle your pets - gentle, slow movements and "nice" petting. Not yelling, hitting or scolding. Not making loud noises or approaching them from behind. Teach them that their pet is to be cared for, not abused, and that they are an important part of the family.
Number #3: Mood is Important
Pets can become quite excited due to outside influences and by their own personalities. Perhaps there's an animal outside or in their territory that they feel protective of. It could be lunchtime and they're excited for their meal. Visitors can create stress and excitement for pets as they figure out if this person is a friend or foe. Teach your child to back away when the animal is excitement or has heightened awareness. Neglecting this could cause an unintentional bite or scratch or the child could be knocked over by jumping or running pets. The same rule applies for animals when they are eating. Even the most well intentioned and loyal dog can sometimes get protective of his food.
There are many situations you will come to navigate when raising your animals and children together. As you would with childproofing, be aware of your surroundings and what may be enticing to your small child. Water bowls, food bowls, treats, food, medications and litter boxes should all be monitored or placed in an area off limits to your crawling baby or running toddler. Children should be taught to respect their own animals and continue that respect outside the home when they encounter friends' animals, animals out in the wild, or strays on the street. Teach them to be calm and to never approach a strange animal. They should never run away from strange dogs, as this can confuse the animal and sometime inadvertently cause a predatory instinct to kick in.
While this is a small bit of advice in creating a enjoyable living and learning environment for your children and animals, seeking out additional information on the subject is encouraged. Learning the basics of dog or cat instinctual behavior will only help you better teach your littles about safety with all animals.