Kids and pets can go wonderfully together. Kids are naturally drawn to pets and are willing to throw the ball over and over or to play with the feather toy for hours at a time. Kids and pets often snuggle together, play together and learn from each other. Visiting friends over the holidays can mean pets who don’t know much about kids and kids who don’t know much about pets. Here are some ways to make sure their meeting is a success.
Sure, your dog might be patient and kind and not mind your kids wrestling and screaming, but your Aunt Millie’s little lap dog might not feel the same way. Your cat might love a good wrestling game with your children, but your cousin’s daughter might be scared of cats. Make sure kids know that each pet is an individual and must be approached carefully and thoughtfully.
- Always ask the pet’s guardian if you may pet their dog or cat. If the answer is no, respect it.
- Watch the pet for signs that it doesn’t want to play anymore. If they get up to leave, let them leave. Don’t hug strange pets.
- Keep your voice down and your jumping and leaping to a minimum. Some pets are scared by loud noises and quick movements.
- If your kids or the animal seems overwhelmed, it’s okay to consult with the host about other options. Most pet owners would rather confine the pet (or the children) for a time than have something happen.
For Pet Guardians
- Make sure your pet has a safe space to retreat to. If you know your pet is overwhelmed with people, especially children, consider giving your pet a nice quiet room to hang out in during the party. If your pet wants to be a part of things still, a wire kennel is a great way to keep them safe but still allow them to be part of the action.
- Pick up food bowls. Misunderstandings about food can be avoided if you remove the temptation.
- Provide children with a toy to interact with your pet. Let your dog get some extra exercise with the children or your cat chase the feather toy for a while. Put the toy away if you see your pet is tired.
- Talk to kids about the right way to interact with your animal. Setting boundaries will ensure your pet is comfortable.
Kids and pets can have a great time together and following this simple tips will help avoid disasters and misunderstandings. We hope that your pets and your children all enjoy a wonderful holiday season.