Our childhood animal friends bring so much joy to our lives, creating fond memories that we think about well into adulthood. As parents, we want to enrich our own children’s lives with the same companionship that comes from a family pet.
If you are thinking about bringing a new cat or dog into a family with children, APA! has several tips and hints for keeping pets happy and children safe.
- Always supervise children and pets, no matter how friendly they are with each other.
- Teach kids basic rules for interacting with animals, including:
- Never disturb animals when they are eating, sleeping, playing with/chewing on a toy
- Use gentle hands when touching pets; never pull tails or hair, pinch, squeeze, or play rough
- Stay calm around animals, never sneak up on them or make loud noises or sudden movements
- Introduce children and animals carefully:
- Teach children to approach new animals with their hands out, palm up, for sniffing and to never touch an animal’s eyes, mouth, or ears
- If possible, get to know an animal before bringing it home:
- Talk to shelter volunteers about the animal, its behavior and character
- Read any information provided by the shelter about whether the animal has been known to live with children in a previous home
- Make sure pets have a quiet place to retreat to if children’s attention becomes overwhelming
- For more information on kids and new pets, check out this great segment by a local kid’s program, featuring Austin Pets Alive!.