April 28th is National Kids and Pets Day. Having a pet can easily be one of the highlights of growing up for many kids. It’s been shown that growing up with family pets can foster increased self-esteem, teach nurturance skills, and be an example of unconditional love for children
It’s important to remember that while having a pet can be fun and exciting, pets are living beings with minds of their own. Parents and children need to be aware of the proper etiquette when it comes to interacting with pets to avoid any potential incidents.
Even the best trained pets can be unpredictable at times. Teaching kids how to safely interact with pets from an early age can help prevent unfortunate accidents from happening. Read on for five pet etiquette tips for kids.
Understand the Best Time to Introduce Kids and Pets
Be aware of what your pet is doing when trying to introduce children. Avoid introducing kids and pets during times of heightened excitement (like when the doorbell rings or treats are being offered). Never approach an animal while they are eating, sleeping, chewing on a toy or caring for their young.
Teach Kids to Use Gentle Hands with Pets
While kids are learning how to interact with other living creatures, they are also learning how to hone their gross and fine motor skills. Teach children that gentle pets are best when it comes to showing your pet love and affection. Avoid pulling or tugging on fur as it can startle the animal and make them feel threatened.
Teach Kids How and When to Approach a Pet
In addition to learning gentle hands, teach children how to softly approach pets in a non-threatening way. Avoid loud noises or sudden movements that could startle your pet. Approach the pet with an open hand, palm facing up, and move slowly towards the pet, allowing them time to investigate.
Keep children from reaching for your pets’ eyes, ears, nose, mouth or genitals, as these are sensitive areas that your pet likely prefers to keep to themselves!
Pay Attention to Pet Body Language
Our pets have ways of communicating to us that they are overwhelmed. If you notice your pet starts to get antsy, is pacing around, panting, or appears agitated, remove them from the room to give them a chance to calm down. Overstimulating your pet increases the chances your pet could become agitated and snap inadvertently.
When introducing pets to children for the first time, reward good behavior. Use treats, such as Momentum Carnivore Nutrition’s freeze dried raw dog treats), to reward gentle behaviors. Teach your pet that children are not threatening and are just there to love them!
Always Supervise Children and Pets
Never leave a child unsupervised with a pet. Even well-mannered pets can get spooked from time to time, leading to an unexpected response that kids might not know how to deal with. Keep eyes on children while they’re interacting with pets and be sure to separate them if adults need to leave the room.
Practice These Pet Safety Tips for Kids Until They Become Second Nature
Always be aware of both children and pets when introducing them. Having a relationship with the family pet can be very rewarding and positive for children. Be sure to start the relationship on a good foot to make sure everyone is safe and happy.