An estimated 4 out of every 10 children are born into families with pets, and nearly 90% will spend some portion of their childhood living with one. Indeed, children and animals just seem to go hand in hand. Beyond being an amazing learning opportunity, pets also offer children a way to connect with and be responsible for something outside of themselves. There’s also plenty that parents can do to help strengthen and deepen the bond between kids and pets.
A Family Affair
Giving your kids the chance to learn about and practice the principles of pet care is a valuable life lesson that can pave the way for a lifetime of satisfying pet ownership. Age appropriate pet care duties such as feeding, brushing, bathing, walking, and cleaning up teach responsibility and build trust between your pet and child. Just be sure all interactions are supervised by an adult or older family member.
Sharing pet care duties as a family is a fun way for everyone to feel connected and have fun at the same time!
Choosing to raise a family in a densely populated, urban environment certainly has its challenges. However, there’s no reason kids and pets can’t enjoy a variety of fun and safe activities in the city, such as:
Walking the dog together as a family.
Trying out an agility class or obstacle course with a pet.
Help kids learn about and provide necessary environmental enrichment for pet cats by building a cat tree, DIY toys, or engaging in fun games together.
Make sure to practice “city safety” when it comes to being out and about with kids and pets. Take the time to explain to children why we don’t let the dog investigate trash in the alley or why we make sure the windows are closed so kitty doesn’t fall out.
Even the most patient pet can be pushed too far. Help keep the interactions between your child and pet safe and enjoyable with the following tips:
Never leave kids and pets alone together! Always supervise interactions.
Teach young children to respect a pet’s boundaries, and help him or her understand when your pet has had enough. For example, ask your child to stop petting kitty when the tail begins swishing rapidly or to move away from your dog when the ears are flattened.
Give your pet a “safe space” to rest when he or she needs to get away from the kids, such as a bed, crate, or room. Make sure your kids know not to pet or interact with your pet while he or she is in the safe zone.
Don’t ask children to discipline a pet. Instead, ask that they let you know if they see the pet doing something he or she shouldn’t.
We value all of our patients and their families here at Animal Kind Veterinary Hospital. We look forward to seeing you soon and hope you won’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns regarding kids and pets!