Adding a cat or dog to your family can bring a lot of joy. In addition, the benefits for children are great: increased self-esteem, nurturing skills, cooperation and, learning to build an unconditional, loving bond. Before you bring home a new pet, however, it is important that you and your children understand some simple rules to help keep your children and pet safe. It is also important to understand the nature of pets. For example, dogs are “pack animals” and live according to a social hierarchy. This means that dogs see every person in the home as a litter-mate and will typically try to dominate or pick-on the youngest female member in the household. Every person in the family must establish themselves as an authority figure or “pack leader” by the way that they interact with the dog.
Plan carefully for a new pet; you should only take on a pet that you feel confident will interact well with your children. Sadly, shelters receive a lot of pets from families with kids after it is discovered that the pet is not the right fit. Study up about your new pet. Look up training, feeding and care tips for your pet by watching online videos or reading books and brochures.
Pet Safety Tips for Children
- Young children (those under the age of 5) need to be supervised while interacting with pets.
- Do not allow a young child to sleep with a pet.
- Provide reminders as often as necessary to be gentle with the animal.
- Never allow a child to pull on the ears or tail, pinch, squeeze or sit on a pet.
- Never allow a child to touch a pet’s nose.
- Teach a child to avoid making loud noises or playing too rough.
- Do not allow your child to disturb a dog while it is resting, sleeping, eating, caring for its young, or playing with a favorite toy.
- Teach your child to never approach strange dogs or animals without permission by you and the pet’s owner.
- Don’t allow pets to lick your child’s face or any cuts or scratches.
- Do not make your young child the primary caregiver to your pet.
Here is what to Teach your Kids if they are Approached by a Strange Dog:
- Stand still and keep your hands by your sides.
- Do not run away as the dog may chase.
- Stare straight ahead, never directly into the dog’s eyes. A dog will interpret a direct gaze as a confrontation.
- Stay quiet. Screaming may scare the dog.
- Back away slowly, one step at a time.
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