Children and Pets: Tips to Help Children Care for Critters

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Kids and pets form strong bonds, and caring for a pet can be a great way for children to be introduced to having responsibility. One of the responsibilities that comes with caring for an animal is observing some pet safety tips.

Treat Animals with Respect

Always supervise and monitor your child's interaction with their pet. Never let children be alone with a dog- even a trusted family pet can unexpectedly lash out. That’s why, as adults, it’s important to teach kids safety tips for interacting with pets.

Remember, animals can't tell us when they're scared, upset, unhappy or hurt. Their primary method of communicating these feelings is with their teeth and claws. Among other animals, these nips are an accepted form of communication, but for kids, getting a bite or scratch from a beloved pet can be frightening and dangerous.

Make sure a child understands to always approach pets, and even more so strange animals, with respect and caution. To introduce your child to a new pet, have them sit quietly and allow the animal to come to them. Show them how to hold their hand out, palm up, and wait for the animal to sniff or lick the outstretched hand. Then the child may slowly and gently begin petting the animal. Remind them to speak in a soft voice and use slow, steady movements. If the animal moves away, let it go and try again later. It's an important lesson in safety for kids to recognize that sometimes animals need to have their personal space respected. If a child is going to be responsible for caring for a pet, they may need to be reminded of a few pet safety tips.

Don't corner pets. Animals who feel they have no escape will often lash out in fear.

Don't bother pets while they're eating or sleeping. No one likes their dinner or nap interrupted!

Don't hold animals too tightly. Struggling for air is not as much fun as cuddling.

Don't grab pets roughly or suddenly. Surprising an animal can make them scratch or bite.

Do treat animals kindly. Building a foundation of trust and respect will ensure happy, loving pets.

While it's great for kids to nurture and care for pets, ultimately it is an adult's responsibility to maintain safety for both kids and pets.

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