Like a moth to a flame, most kids tend to have a special bond and fascination with animals. With their wet noses, furry faces and cute cuddles, can you really blame them? However, before you let your child interact with any pets, it’s important to let them know what to expect, as each pet is different. Continue reading for great tips for teaching your child how to respect pets and their owners.
Permission: When encountering a pet, whether it be at the park or in a friends home, your child should always ask permission before they touch or interact with an animal and that an adult must be present. Once they get the green light, teach your child to let the pet come to them. Your child can slowly put out their hand in a closed fist (palm down to save those cute fingers from nips and bites) for the animal to smell. If the animal comes closer or licks their hand then they can gently pet the animal nicely.
Puppy Love: Make the experience fun! Your child can ask the pet’s name. Although remind them to use their best indoor voice, as shouting can frighten the animal. They can also ask where the animal’s favorite place to be scratched is.
Boundaries: Your child should be aware of boundaries and when to back away from animals. If an animal is sleeping, eating or playing they should wait to play with them. Also teach your child is never okay to chase, tease, poke, grab or pull the tail of any animal.
Listen: Every pet has warning signs. If a dog starts to aggressively growl or bark or if a cat starts to hiss, teach your child to take a step back.
Body Language: Just like humans animals have body language. While happy dogs wag their tails and cats tend to purr, scared animals have hair raised on their backs and may whine or shake.
Gratitude: If you’ve encountered an animal in the park or on the street, try not to take up too much of the owner’s time and always make sure your child says “Thank You.”
Pound Puppies: If no owner is in sight, then your child should know to stay away from a stray dog or cat. This also goes for dogs tied up outside of shops. Even if the pet appears to be nice, it could be carrying diseases like rabies.
Cujo: What to teach your child if a dog attacks. “Stay calm if approached by a strange dog. Stand still, arms at your side. Do not stare at the animal, just look straight ahead. When it moves away, walk calmly away. If animal jumps up and knocks you down, curl into a ball, elbows and chin tucked in, with fists over your ears.”
Cleanliness: I have a daily struggle to keep my cat’s face clean as she dips her whole face into the food bowl! Keeping pets clean to avoid unwanted odours and clearing out their trays is essential for your family’s health and wellbeing..