A young child feeds a cat

Few childhoods seem complete without close, valuable, interactions with animals. Whether it’s a doggy stopping by the playground or the kitty featured in a favorite picture book, kids go bananas over pets. But while the family cat, dog, turtle, or hamster can easily become the best possible friend to a young child, kids and pets need constant supervision, ongoing education, and lots of training.

Fun & Furry

Teaching kids how to be safe around animals is a huge priority. While they may not necessarily do things to hurt them, kids have a way of impulsively pulling tails, petting too hard, or chasing after pets. Children are also prone to sudden, loud, screeching while they play or they can burst into tears and screams when they’re upset. These noises and actions may scare pets and they can also cause them to react aggressively in self-defense.

More Than Love

It is a fact that not all pets love kids the ways they are loved by the children around them. To ensure that kids and pets are safe together, follow these guidelines:

  • Closely supervise all kid-pet interactions.
  • Separate them before things get out of hand.
  • Watch your pet’s body language and pay keen attention to the way they are signaling to be left alone.
  • Since half of all dog bites involve kids younger than age 12, be sure that your child isn’t pressuring, cornering, stressing out, or loving too hard on the animal in question.
  • Never tolerate actions such as pulling, yanking, chasing, taunting, teasing, hitting, kicking, or other physical threats from a child.
  • Be careful not to over-excite your pet and encourage your child to keep loud voices to a minimum. 
  • Make sure your pet has a safe place to take refuge like a crate or bed where your child knows they are off-limits.
  • Opt for pet boarding and group play activities when you are hosting your kid’s friends for a party or playdate (your pet will be grateful!).
  • Make sure your child never interferes with your pet’s eating, sleeping, nursing, or grooming time.
  • Train your pet to behave in very specific ways around kids. Always give them extra time and space if they need it. 

Big Responsibility

One of the best ways to integrate the fun of childhood with the big responsibility of pet ownership is to encourage kids to help take care of the family pet. If they are old enough, ask them to feed, brush, and walk the dog. While you supervise, teach them how to clean the litter box or scoop poop (depending on their age).

When they respectfully take care of pets, kids start to learn that loving them and playing with them is a privilege.

Kids and Pets

One of the best ways you can support the nurturing relationship between kids and pets includes regular wellness exams for your pet. When we have a chance to stay in front of any developing conditions, you are ensuring that your pet lives with little or no pain. A sick pet can be extra sensitive to touch, noise, and attention from little hands, possibly leading to volatile reactions. 

We can also discuss any behavioral questions to ensure that your kids and pets are safe at home together. 

Fear-Free Plus Boarding

You can guide kids and pets toward the most gratifying relationship by involving everyone during routine wellness checks. We strive for optimum fear-free practices at Dickinson Animal Hospital & Pet Wellness Center. Every interaction we have focuses on lowering stress and increasing health. 

Whether you require assistance with our excellent pet boarding options, back to school pet anxiety, or preventive health care, our doctors and staff are always here for you.