Kids learn through good guidance and new opportunities. Some have horrible allergies or ‘neat freak’ parents who don’t elect to allow pets in the home and family, but the majority of kids are in good position to pair their youths with family pets. However, when introducing a pet into your home, several things need attention to ensure a gentle entry.
Be Wise in Your Selection
Is a pitbull a good choice for those with small babies? Though you can certainly find more than a few exceptions, perhaps a potentially vicious dog is not the best fit for a family with a small, defenseless child. Be attentive to your child’s personality. Perhaps they would love a pet yet are skittish around larger animals, so a smaller-sized breed of dog would be more appropriate. Be selective and consider how your child will react and grow with the pet.
Teach Your Kids Proper Etiquette
In the Dennis the Menace cartoon, Dennis rides his dog like a small pony. While it makes for a cute and hilarious cartoon, it’s not realistic. Aside from being unsafe for the child, it’s likely that a family dog would not enjoy being straddled and ridden like a horse. Therefore, before getting the animal, talk to your child about proper behavior and etiquette. Tell them the dog has feelings just like them and is prone to injury too. Also, address the difference between playing and teasing; tell your kid not to hide the pet’s toys or dog Christmas ornaments.
Make Your Child an Owner
Besides becoming a best friend, a family pet is great for teaching kids responsibility and lessons they can take with them into adulthood. In short, make your kids part owner of the pet too. That means taking it on walks, cleaning up after it, and taking rides to the veterinarian. Parents often give kids chores to teach them responsibility. Being responsible for the family pet is a great way for kids to mature through experience rather than verbal guidance alone.
Be a Supervisor
How will you know your child and pet are getting along if you don’t supervise? You need to know your child is being appropriate with the pet and if the pet is showing signs of aggression toward the helpless child. Be a supervisor, not allowing your child to be alone with the pet in the beginning while you slowly give them more time together in isolation. Periodically remind your child of how they should behave, provide suggestions, and let the pet know it is safe around the child who is also its master.
Do Not Multitask
Puppies are a lot of hard work, especially for a mom and dad with a newborn or younger child. So, consider the timing in getting a new pet. Perhaps you’re convinced you want a family dog but it might be better to wait a few years until a newborn child is grown, so you won’t have to deal with the responsibilities associated to a baby and a puppy. For new parents, a puppy is an added stress that can be avoided.