Cute and Cuddly: Teaching Kids About Pet Safety
Pets have been part of human culture for over 25,000 years. The desire to seek out – and enjoy – animal companionship is often cultivated during childhood. As kids, we’re swept away by books and films depicting animal heroes, which only strengthens our collective love of pets.
However, while it’s well-established that children love animals, it’s less common to hear what we should be teaching kids about pet safety. That’s where your friends at Hallsville Veterinary Hospital come in!
Perhaps kids love pets because they feel empowered to care for them or maybe children just need the unconditional love of a pet. Whatever the reasons are behind these pint-sized relationships, the fact remains that kids love animals. But not all animals love kids.
There are obvious dangers you must consider when teaching kids about pet safety. For example:
- Animals retaliate when they feel attacked, pressured, or stressed.
- Half of all dog bites involve children younger than age 12.
- For the majority of dog bites that require emergency care, the human victim was under age 15.
No animal should not have to tolerate chasing, pulling, yanking, hitting, kicking, or other physical threats from a child. Many pets also bristle at loud shrieks and other unpredictable noise and can react strongly to what they perceive as danger.
Teaching Kids About Pet Safety
Your leadership along with a proactive approach and clear communication are key to teaching kids about pet safety. Model how you expect your child to behave and share how to avoid getting bitten or scratched.
Your pet’s space bubble should never be compromised. It’s especially important that a child back off when a pet is:
- Chewing on a treat or aggressively playing with a toy
- Nursing or tending to young
Instead, try cultivating a sense of responsibility in your child by allowing him or her to feed, exercise, or groom your family pet. Being able to meet the daily care needs of a pet builds trust and creates a sense of safety and security.
Like a Hawk
If you have any doubts about your child and animals, be sure to oversee all interactions closely. Your supervision will stop unwanted behavior and can also lead to meaningful “teachable moments.”
The Importance of Training
A good pet generally wants to please his or her owner, but this isn’t possible if boundaries are unclear. Teach your pet how to behave around children, and never allow corralling or bullying. Kids can also be perceived as lower in the “chain of command,” leading some animals to display dominance by knocking them down.
Teaching kids about pet safety will only go so far; you must also follow up with your pet. With clear rules and expectations, a beautiful relationship full of respect and trust will flourish.
Please contact us with additional questions and tips for teaching kids about pet safety. Our team is always here for you and your family!