Pets and Kids - Managing Both in the Household

At DhohOo, petcare is our passion. We aim to familiarize pet owners with essential tips and tricks for keeping their pets happy and healthy.

Managing a household with pets and kids can be tricky. Both require a fair amount of attention and care daily; however, teaching both to get along is often a challenge for new pet owners.

If you live in a household where one party does not enjoy being around the other, things could get hairy very quickly. Let’s look at some of the challenges of raising pets and kids together, and how you can overcome them in a safe and comfortable manner.

Do pets and kids get along?

Whether you want to add a pet to your existing family, or are bringing a child into a household with a pet, the question on your mind is likely going to be “do pets and kids get along?”. Unfortunately, there’s no set answer that applies to all situations.

Most kids love their family pets and shower them with plenty of affection daily. However, their feline friend or canine companion may not reciprocate those feelings.

Helping kids and cats get along

If your household contains both kids and cats, you may have already witnessed a few clashes between the two. Your child may be eager to play with their pet cat, but the latter wants nothing to do with them.

New feline owners should understand that cats tend to be moody and that they have boundaries and limitations that need to be respected. If your child attempts to pet or pick up the family cat at the wrong time, they may end up being scratched or bitten in response. To avoid such situations, you should teach your child how to interact with your feline respectfully.

Reading your cat’s body language

Before allowing your child to interact with a new cat, you should show them how to identify the pet’s body language. Some common body language cues are shown below:

  • Ears turned sideways: Your cat is anxious and should be handled with caution.
  • Ears turned back: Your cat feels irritated or afraid and should be left alone.
  • Upright ears: Your cat is relaxed and may be open to interaction.

Your cat’s tail movements can also indicate their mood. If their tail suddenly turns prickly and upright, they are agitated. If your cat is swinging their tail repeatedly, they may be getting irritated. In these situations your child should know to leave the animal alone.

Teaching safe handling practices

If your cat appears to be in a good mood, you can teach your children to pet them the right way. Cat’s are often picky about the manner they wish to be petted. However, a foolproof technique is to place your hand in front of their nose and allow them to smell you. When they seem comfortable, you can pet them gently using long strokes from their head to their tail.

If you own a kitten, they may attempt to grab your hand and gently bite your fingers. This is playful behaviour that shouldn’t cause any injury. However, adult cats engaging in the same behavior may be agitated and trying to signal that they wish to be left alone.

Once your cat warms up to your child, they may be able to pick them up safely. The proper technique for picking up a cat is to place one hand under their chest, and use the other to support their hindquarters. Hold them securely up against your chest, but avoid squishing them too tightly.

Each positive interaction can make your cat more comfortable around your child. However, owners should avoid leaving toddlers unsupervised around their feline friend. Even the friendliest cats have their limits, so a responsible adult should always be around to stop an interaction before it goes awry.

Helping dogs and kids get along

Managing a household with kids and dogs comes with its own set of challenges. Dogs may be more affectionate and eager to play than cats are, but they are also much larger and stronger than felines.

Reading your dog’s body language

Once your child develops a strong bond with your dog, they may be inseparable. However, when you first introduce a canine into your household, you will need to teach your kids how to read their body language.

Some canine body language cues are shown below:

  • Flattened ears: This is a sign that your dog is unsure or afraid.
  • Licking their lips: This indicates that your dog does not want to be touched or held, and may be getting ready to bite.
  • Shaking: A dog that is shaking uncontrollably may be anxious or fearful.
  • Barking: Barking is a sign that your dog is afraid.
  • Growling: Growling indicates that your dog may be getting ready to attack.
  • Looking away: If your dog is avoiding looking at you, they may feel uncomfortable.

Recognizing the aforementioned signals can save your child from being bitten. For this reason, parents should spend time teaching their kids about their dog’s body language.

Petting your dog

When your dog appears to be comfortable, you can teach your child how to pet them correctly. Canines love being petted on their shoulders, the base of their neck, and their chest. When petting your pooch, you should always use strokes in the same direction as their fur. Rubbing it backwards may agitate them.

Behaviors to avoid

Your children should avoid engaging in the following behaviors around your dog:

  • Following or chasing your dog when they are attempting to move away.
  • Running away from their pet, as this may prompt them to chase after your child.
  • Disturbing the dog when it is eating or sleeping.
  • Hugging their dog, as it makes them uncomfortable.
  • Screaming or talking loudly in the animal’s presence
  • Putting their face close to the dog’s.

Over time, you child will become more familiar with the Do’s and Don’t when they are interacting with your pup. However, parents should avoid leaving babies and toddlers alone with their canine.

Pets and kids often get off to a rocky start, but with the right training and supervision, they may become best friends.

Find out more about this in our collection.

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