When it comes to pets and kids, there are several steps you can take to make sure your puppy or even older dog learns to socialize well with children of all ages.
- Begin socializing your pet as soon as possible. If you’ve got a puppy, then between 5 weeks and 5 months is the best time to really begin introducing your pet to children. This chart from the ASPCA shows the best times to introduce your puppy to a variety of people, places and things:
- Even with older dogs, you can still help them to become more used to children by slowly introducing them to kids and various child-based situations. Try taking them to a soccer field to watch children play or take them to a friend’s house where children are present. Introduce them to children of various ages.
- Teach your dog the “pack” order and how to be comfortable as a pet in a human society by making sure he knows his place: make sure the dog gets fed after people do; make sure that you or your child enters the house or leaves the house before the pet does so that the pet sees who is in charge.
- Don’t force your dog into a situation that he or she isn’t ready for and make sure not to allow the dog to play roughly with children.
- Be sure to supervise all pet/child encounters!
- Make sure your children know that pets are real creatures, not toys. They should always be gentle with pets.
- Children shouldn’t grab toys away from pets. Teach your child how to coax the toy (if playing fetch) from your pet and how to reward the pet with treats for a job well done.
- Make sure children know to leave dogs alone while the dogs are eating and make sure that they know not to run up to strange animals.
Children and Cats
Cats are quite tolerant of children. From my own experience it seems every time cats are around children they seem to just lie there while kids do their best to “gently” pat the kitty. Still, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind when helping your child and cat bond:
- Make sure that children approach cats from a sitting position so as not to seem threatening.
- Remind children that cats are alive and need to be treated gently and with care.
- Perhaps reward your cat for his good behavior with a favorite treat or some catnip.