Tips on How to Introduce Children and Pets
2 June, 2015
Children and Pets

Guest Blog by: Dwight Alleyne, Veterinarian, and author of the Animal Doctor Blog

Adding a pet to the family can be an exciting experience for everybody. No one is more excited than children who share in this experience. Deciding to add a pet to a household is one that should be taken seriously. Many factors are involved to make the process as easy as possible. Your experience with pets, the breed of the pet, and training all should be considered with this decision. If you have kids and are planning to acquire a pet, here are tips that may help with the transition.

Consider your family’s experience

If this is the first pet for everybody in the household, then it is important that all familiarize themselves on the responsibilities to owning a pet. The family should plan to attend training classes together or have a trainer come to the house to help with the transition. If there is a pet that has been in the household prior to any children, you may want to know how it might respond to a younger child. This may be accomplished by exposing your pet to children and note their response. If the response is unfavorable then training can be implemented to help correct this.

Children and Pets

Consider breeds that work best for your family

If you are looking to add a purebred to the family, you may consider breeds that have a reputation to be child friendly if you have limited experience with pets. When it comes to breeds of dogs, you may consider Golden Retrievers, Beagles, Collies and King Cavalier Charles as some of your choices. These breeds are well known for their calm dispositions and have a reputation for being highly trainable. Keep in mind that this is not a guarantee they will be friendly with your children. You still have to do your part regarding their training.

Training is needed for both the child and the pet

Training is important for all pets, but having a child makes it even more imperative. You don’t want a pet that is hyperactive, and jumps on your child which could cause injury. Also you want to make sure your pet is not a biter whether it is for play or out of aggression.  Your child should be taught how to treat your pet with respect. They should know how to be gentle when touching your pet and never yell or hit at it. These actions could cause anxiety and possible aggression towards your child.

Introductions should be supervised

The first interactions with the pet and the child should always be supervised. During these interactions you will want to observe if there are any problems with the child or the pet. If issues come up then they should be addressed with training. Unsupervised interactions should not occur until you are comfortable that any issues that came up are resolved.

Look for an opportunity for teaching responsibility

Having a pet is a great opportunity for your kids to learn responsibility. If your kids are old enough encourage them to participate in feeding, walking, and cleaning after your pet. This will provide lifelong lessons for your children which they can carry into their adult hood.

Having pets and kids can sometimes be a challenge. Hopefully these tips can make things easier for your family leading to a great relationship with your pet.

You can read more excellent articles on pet advice by Dr. Dwight Alleyne, Veterinarian, and author of the Animal Doctor Blog


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