Pets and children can be a very perfect—not to mention adorable—pairing. They actually have a lot in common: they’re curious about things, love to cuddle and play, and often get into trouble if left unsupervised. Our animal companions can teach kids about love, friendship, and empathy. However, it’s important to teach your little one how to interact with them properly. In this article from Fairfield Animal Hospital, your Cypress, TX animal clinic, a local vet offers some tips on teaching your children how to interact with pets.

Supervise

Rule number one? Always supervise interactions between your child and pets. Even the sweetest pets can lash out if they feel threatened!

Emotion And Empathy

This is another thing to emphasize. Animals should always be treated with kindness and respect, and should only be touched or handled very gently. Explain that our furry friends have feelings, too, and can be scared, hurt, or angry, just like people can.

Body Language

A young child may not understand every nuance of animal body language, but it’s never too soon to start teaching them the basics. Explain things like growling and tail ‘language.’ A dog that is wagging his tail may be cheerful and friendly. However, when a cat does this, it’s a sign that Fluffy is not happy.

Don’t Force It

No matter what kind of animal your child is interacting with, they should know not to chase them, grab them, or try to hold them if they want to get away. This can make the animal feel scared and threatened, which is the opposite of what you want!

Movies

Movies can be great for teaching kids empathy, but young children can sometimes get confused about the difference between cartoons and reality. Keep this in mind, and have a conversation with them about this.

Safety

While cats can definitely do some damage by scratching and biting, it’s rare for Fluffy to cause serious injury. Dogs are usually much more dangerous. Teach your child never to approach or interact with a strange dog without asking permission. Other ground rules? Never pull a pup’s tail, strike him, or take his toys or food. Also, if they do get permission to pet Fido, let the pooch sniff their hand first.

Please contact Fairfield Animal Hospital, your Cy-Fair, TX animal clinic, for your pet’s care needs. We’re here for you!