From 2010 to 2012, more than 350,000 kids under the age of 14 experienced dog bite injuries. While circumstances vary, a salient truth remains: the majority of these bites could have been prevented.
There’s a lot to learn when it comes to pet safety and kids, and much of it can only be absorbed over time. However, with direct adult supervision and close observation of certain rules, kids and pets can remain safe, healthy, and happy.
Training is a great place to start with pet safety and kids. Addressing your pet’s behavioral needs goes a long way at home. If your child is old enough, you may want to include him or her in the process. At the very least, your child and pet will learn to understand one another, and your child will gain basic knowledge of canine body language.
The family pet isn’t the only one who needs to be trained on proper ways to interact. Make sure your child understands the following:
- It’s never acceptable to chase, hit, kick, squeeze, or pull on your pet.
- He or she should never interrupt a pet’s sleep, meal, or engaged play time with chew toys.
- Leave a pet alone if defensive behaviors occur, such as hissing, barking, biting, or scratching.
Encourage your child to ask before approaching another pet. Teach him or her to extend an open hand, palm up, for the new friend to smell. Strongly discourage your child from sneaking up on an animal from behind.
Is it Moving?
While a cat may keep to him or herself, a family dog typically can’t help but get overly excited in the presence of a child. Kids are unpredictable, and their sudden movements can trigger a dog to play, jump, or run around. Your approach to pet safety and kids should include how to react to a dog’s unwanted behavior, such as:
- Stop running away; dogs love to chase.
- Stand still like a tree; remain calm and quiet.
- Don’t make eye contact with a dog; look down instead.
While this can be applied to your own pet, this is great tactic if your child is ever around an unfamiliar dog. Close supervision and immediate action is a major component of pet safety and kids. We invite you to contact us if you need help getting involved.
Kids and Pet Safety
If your child is ready to share some responsibility of the family pet, encourage him or her to begin with basic elements of care, such as feeding and watering. Over time, he or she can graduate to grooming, exercising, and even continued training.
A fundamental understanding of health and sanitation is another important component of pet safety and kids. Educate your child about proper ways to pick up and discard pet waste. The goal is to keep everyone germ-free.
Safety First! Fun Second…
Our veterinarians and staff want to nurture strong relationships between kids and pets. Fostering respect and appreciation for a family pet, can lead to a lifelong love of animals. There’s nothing better than that!