Before taking a pet, you need to think about every detail of its life at your home. Think of who will walk the pet (if it’s a dog), who will feed it, and whether the animal will get used to its new routine. All these questions will determine the quality of life, both yours and of the animal you are about to adopt or buy.
The list of questions becomes much bigger if you have a little child or children. The pet can become their best friend if you handle the upbringing right, or the worst enemy if you don’t. It’s crucial that your children and pets find each other friendly and interesting, which will make their and your life filled with joy and peace.
There are certain steps to try to make the situation positive, and we united all of them into this guide.
Set Some Ground Rules
The first thing you need to keep in mind is that new pets will generally be scared of the environment you place them in and will need a period to adjust. This gets harder when they have young children looming over them and trying to grab them all the time. As such, it is important that you talk about introducing the pet into the household and set some rules for the kids to follow. What these rules are is up to you, but could things like if the animal is allowed on the furniture, how to pet the animal properly and the sort of training that you will implement.
Consider Body Language
Most pets will communicate through their body language, which can be an indicator of how comfortable they are around kids. Things like bared teeth are obvious, but you also need to keep an eye out for hesitance, nervousness and skittishness. Make sure your children are as aware of these signals as possible too, as being too persistent with an animal that is not comfortable can lead to accidents happening. Help your child to understand the various signals that your animal offers so they can be interpreted correctly.
It’s A Privilege
You also need to impress on your children the importance of taking responsibility for the pet. Inviting an animal into the home is a privilege for your child, not a right, and teaching your kids the difference between the two will go a long way to ensuring they appreciate the animal for what it represents and brings to the family. Furthermore, by encouraging your child to take responsibility for their pets, you will be teaching them valuable lessons that they can take into later life.
Don’t Leave Them Alone
Both young children and animals are unpredictable, so you should be very wary of leaving them alone together, especially when you are still in the process of introducing the pet into the home. The issues that I’ve highlighted above might come to the fore in such situations and you won’t be there to ensure both are comfortable and safe. Make it a point to be in the space that your pets and children share. As time goes on and the bond develops, you can feel a little safer in giving them time together.
If your children see you shouting and yelling at your pets, they are likely to do the same. Remember that pet ownership is a privilege and responsibility for you as well, perhaps even more so as you are the best example for your child to follow. Get your child involved in training and make it a point to not scold the animal or otherwise behave in a way that makes it scared or uncomfortable. Reward good behaviour for animals and children and you will find that everything starts coming together.