Studies have shown that children with one or many pets have greater self-esteem, better social skills and are more popular amongst other children. It has even been shown that contact with animals reduces the risk of allergies in children.
Nevertheless, even if the interaction between them offers many benefits to the child, you must teach your child how to behave with animals (especially dogs) so that both of them can have a safe and enjoyable relationship. Every year, too many preventable accidents involving children and misinformed parents occur.
Since the child is looking for a pet to play with, cats and dogs are the animals of choice. Obviously, not all cats and dogs are great with babies. The animal must be gentle and not demonstrate any kind of aggressive behavior.
- Never accept your baby hurting an animal. It is neither cute nor excusable just because they are too young to understand. Teach your child respect.
- Never let the animal in the baby’s room without supervision.
- Teach your child how the animal likes to be touched, what are the best and worst ways and places to pet the animal. After repeating this a few times, your child will understand.
- Babies learn from their parents even when it comes to animals. If you act harshly with the animal, so will your child. If you fear certain animals, there is a great chance that you will pass your fear on to your child.
- Before buying a pet, visit friends with animals to check if your child has an allergic reaction. It would truly be sad to realize that your child is allergic once the animal has already become a part of the family.
- Dogs can increase asthmatic kids’ reactions to air pollution. This situation does not occur with cats.
- Children don’t have a sense of responsibility…Don’t expect your child to care for the animal. You will have to look after the animal’s well-being at least until your child is old enough to become your little helper.
If you own a dog, it is your responsibility to train it, teach it how to socialize with others properly and supervise its interactions with children closely. It will then become a positive experience for both the dog and the child.
Teach your child how:
- The dog communicates.
- To approach a dog and when to do it.
- To behave around a dog.
- To react in front of a menacing dog.
In the presence of a dog, it is best to stay calm and avoid yelling, running and being overly excited. These are all behaviours that are completely opposite to children’s nature. This is why supervision and awareness are so important.
- Children under the age of 10 are the most susceptible to getting bitten.
- A trained dog behaves better around children. Invest in your child’s safety.
- The first contact with a dog is crucial in determining future events. Let your dog smell and even lick your child, even if you have to wash your child afterward. This will allow the dog to recognize your baby and accept them as a member of the family.
- Until you are 100% certain of the dog’s reactions, never leave your baby alone with the dog without supervision.
- Remember that there are no dog breeds that are completely safe for children. Each dog has its own personality and can react badly to the baby’s arrival.
- Teach your child the signs that indicate that the animal wants to be left alone. It will reduce the risk of accidents.
- Tease a dog.
- Approach a dog that is alone, caged or tied up.
- Approach a dog that is eating or sleeping.
- Touch a dog’s toys or bone.
- Run or yell when a dog comes close.
- Look a dog in the eyes.
- Approach your face to the dog's face.
- Run towards a dog.
- Touch a dog who is trying to run away or hide.
- Escape by running away.
- Touch a dog that is growling, backing up or showing its teeth.
- Ask for the owner's permission to touch a dog.
- Let the dog smell your hands (palms facing up) before touching the animal.
- Touch the animal under its chin first, and then the abdomen and the flanks.
- Stay still and remain quiet if an unknown dog approaches you.
- Roll into a ball, cover your neck and hide your face in your arms if a dog hustles you and makes you fall.
Ideally, a cat should have been raised in a lively environment and been held by many children before it was 3 months old.
Otherwise, the cat could be more fearful of or develop aggressive behavior towards children. Cats lose a lot of hair so it’s important to pick-up it up daily even if no one is allergic, otherwise, your baby could put it in their mouth. The cat could then be attracted to your child’s spit-up…Milk, even when sour, is tempting!
- Yell in a cat’s ear.
- Pull its tail.
- Let it fall or suffocate it with kisses.