Keeping Kids and Pets Safe with Each Other
© Colleen Paige
Never allow an unattended baby or young child to be around your, or anyone
elseís, dogs or cats if they're aggressive, territorial, or dominant.
Children innocently pull on ears and tails, pick up dog toys, and approach
eating and sleeping pets without caution. Most attacks on children are
committed by pets that are otherwise gentle and non-aggressive. However,
when they are eating, sleeping, or in pain, they can lash out and, within
seconds, cause permanent and sometimes fatal injuries. A jealous, dominant
dog may wait until he is alone with the child to show her that heís the
pack leader. His attempt to scare the child can result in major injury or
If properly taught by a parent, a child as young as 8 can establish a
respect-based relationship with his dog. Still, because there is so much
room for error when children are involved, a parent must always be
present. At some point, every dog, regardless of breed or age, will try to
challenge its owner. This is normal for dogs, and occurs during canine
adolescence, between seven and fourteen months of age.
Child Safety Tips
- Never leave children unsupervised
- Teach your children to ask a dog
owner if itís OK to pet the dog.
- Teach your children to pet a dog
under their chin and not by reaching over his back or head.
- When children are young, guide
their hands, showing them where to pet a dog, cat, horse, bunny
or any other pet, so they learn to touch gently.
- Teach them never to run at a pet
or pull its tail or ears.
- Remind them that animals hurt
too, and to be careful when they are playing near a pet.
Bringing Home Baby
- Bringing home a new baby means
having less time for your pet than you did before. Cats are very
independent and generally tolerate newborns well, but a dog may feel
jealous and territorial, not realizing that the baby is a human pack
member. Make the changes to the dog's routine slowly, before the baby is
born. Have the dog spend some time around children (supervised, of
course), so he gets used to them and you can see if he appears to like
them. Most people know the spots on their dogís body that might be
sensitive to pinching from little fingers. Practice handling your dog in
the way a child might, such as gently pulling on ears, tail, or paws,
and reward the dog if he sits nicely without a negative reaction. You
might also teach him how to gently accept food from a hand.
You can help your dog
acclimate to his new human sibling by bringing home a blanket with the
baby's smell on it prior to the babyís homecoming. To prevent feelings
of anger and resentment toward the new baby, show your dog twice as much
attention and offer special treats to him when the baby is around. This
helps create a positive association with the baby. Taking your dog on
special outings that do not involve the baby but are only about the
dog having fun helps to keep that dog-human bond and quell
Spot's possible feelings of rejection. Take time to play with your cat,
especially if you used to - to avoid feline frustration and boredom.
Until you can gauge
your dogsí temperament toward the new baby, make sure that your dog is
leashed and held by Dad during the greeting process. This helps control
him without too much fuss, especially if he acts strangely and wants to
get too close a look. I also suggest placing a tall baby gate at
the entrance of the nursery, to prevent your pets from visiting the baby
If you notice that
your dog or cat seems uninterested or even upset about the baby, donít
fret. It can take some time for them to bond with this new member of the
pack. Keep giving your pets plenty of attention and special one on one
time with you, and they'll be ready to play big brother or sister in no
Colleen Paige is founder of the Animal Miracle
Foundation & Network, home to National Kids & Pets Day. She is also a
Celebrity Pet Lifestyle Expert, Animal Behaviorist, Best Selling Author,
Family & Pet Life Safety Expert, Paramedic, Publisher of
Pet Home Magazine and Pet Home Kids Magazine, Mom, Pet Companion and
Wife. For more information, please visit www.colleenpaige.com