If you’re a proud parent and a proud pet owner, there’s a good chance that your pets and your children may end up being lifelong BFFs. Having a lovable pet teaches children to be responsible, caring, and encourages them to go outside for playtime–an increasingly rare feat in today’s world, if we’re all being honest.
The benefits to children and pets growing up together are endless; but it is also critical to ensure your children are safe and that they learn the correct way to interact with their furry friends. To be prepared and ready for their initial interactions and to educate your kids about the dos and don’ts of handling cats and dogs is a smart move–this will minimize the likelihood of mishaps.
So without further ado, here are 6 ways to help make sure that your kids and your pets get along swimmingly.
1. Furry introductions
If you’ve recently had a baby and your pet/s back at home are eager to be introduced to the new member of the family, it’s up to you to make sure things go smoothly. Make sure the introduction is gradual; the changes in lifestyle and schedule that come with raising a baby can be confusing and stressful to your furry friends. Make sure there are no sudden movements from your pets–expose them to the baby’s smells and sounds gradually. As enthusiastic as your pets may seem to meet their new playmate, the safety of your child is priority number 01. Slowly increase their contact with time, they’re sure to get used to each other’s behaviour as the weeks go by. It’s also important to ensure that your pets are up-to-date on their vaccines and tick/flea free, for the safety of your newborn.
2. Stranger danger
Boundaries are important!If your children are a little older, make sure that they, as enthusiastic about animals as they may be, are careful when approaching unknown dogs or cats. We don’t have to tell you that kids are impulsive–they often believe they know best, regardless of your input. But teach them that sudden contact with unknown animals–even if they are household pets–can be risky. They risk catching the animal off-guard and provoking a hostile reaction; especially if the pets are ones who aren’t used to being around small, incessantly curious humans. If your children are gentle and careful around pets, there’s a lot less to fear.
3. Chores and responsibilities
Once they are a little older and begin to develop their motor skills, get your kids involved in pet care–this will encourage and harness their sense of responsibility and compassion. Whether it be letting them change your pet’s water bowl or brushing your dog or cat’s fur coat, doing little household chores involving your pets is a good way to get your kids to bond with their furry friends. Don’t forget that chores can sometimes be a little monotonous. Remember to switch things up once in a while, by either turning it into a game or putting on some fun music to lighten the mood.
4. Don’t pop that personal space bubble!
It might start being the case that your pet has become extremely clingy to your little one (or vice versa!). Both your pets and your kids need to give each other space. It’s essential that you allow your dog or cat space to excuse themselves from constant interaction–if your pet spends a lot of time with an energetic young child, they might be prone to get stressed or anxious. Keep an eye on their body language–if they want an out, make sure they get it!
5. Interacting no-nos
Tying into giving each other space, there are certain instances where your pet would rather not be playfully prodded at. These may include meal times, and when they’re injured, tired or asleep. Let your kids know to not disturb your animals during these times as they wouldn’t take well to playful gestures or loud noises. Your supervision is imperative to help them get along and prevent any unwanted interactions from taking place.
6. Set an example
Our offspring are quick to pick up our habits; both good and bad. Commit to being a role model that shows them how interactions with pets should happen, they’ll catch on quite quickly! Demonstrate being gentle with your cat or pup, how to approach them during playtime and how mealtime works. By being a responsible pet owner yourself, you’ll set an excellent precedent for your little ones to follow.
Having a good relationship with their pets can be an extremely wholesome way to enrich the lives of children and brighten their day. Your pets will be gloriously happy to have a best friend in your kids too (finally, someone who can match their endless energy!). With your preparation, education and supervision, you’re bound to witness some beautiful Kodak moments between your human babies and your fur babies.