I grew up with both cats and dogs and they were always a very special part of my childhood. I know that some parents are reluctant to introduce their kids to a new cat or dog out of fear that their kids will get hurt. The benefits of owning a pet far outweigh the possibility of injury. Children can learn from an early age the importance of responsibility, understanding rules as well as having a fabulous companion that they can love unconditionally.
While pets can get rough during play time or when they are anxious, below are some tips that you can try with your children to help them understand the boundaries that pets have.
Create some new games
When your children and pets are getting to know each other, make up some games that involve toys and words rather than direct touch. This can help them understand each other and get down a routine of how to interact. It further minimizes the risk of nips, scratches, and pounces on your child as they first get to know each other.
Make sure your pet knows the word “Stop”
Teach your dog the word “Stop” and encourage your child to use this during playtime when your dog or cat gets overly excited and plays too rough. If the dog doesn’t stop, tell your child to walk away and come find you.
Help your child understand a pet’s body language
It is important for your child to understand the body language of your pet. A cat who wags it tail hard on the floor can mean ‘retreat’ or a stare from a dog with a tense body stance can mean they are not feeling up to playing or need some time alone. A low growl or hiss is a definite sign to leave the pets alone and walk away.
Make sure your children know their pet’s space
Remind your children that the dog’s crate or cat’s bed is their special retreat and your children should not disturb them when the pets are there. It’s as much a right for your cat or dog to become tired and want to end a play session. If your dog or cat retreats to their spots, then that means they need some downtime.
Teach your kids the basic commands
Show your child that asking your dog to sit, stay, and lie down can be a game too and let your child reward the dog with praise and treats. It helps establish in your dog’s mind that your child is not only a friend but also someone who controls the pace and playtime. Supervise these moments carefully to make sure your dog doesn’t get overly excited and grab the treat from your child’s hands.
As with any situation, if you child or your pet gets upset during play time, then it’s time for a break. Time -outs work well for the dog, cat, and child. It gives everyone a moment to calm down or to find another activity.
I hope these tips help and that your new pet and children get along fabulously.
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