Kids and Pets - How To Make It A Positive Experience For All
Kids and Pets:
Having children and pets growing up together in the family home can be wonderful. Deep friendships are formed and pets can provide a great deal of comfort whilst your child grows and tackles the complexities of life. However, for some households the reality of children and pets can be stuff of nightmares.
Mouthy pups, dogs who like to chase, stressed cats and nervous dogs are just a few of the challenges your children could face. Smells and sounds of a newborn, an active toddler or a nervous child are some challenges your pet may face. It’s a relationship that works both ways. You need to consider what’s best for your child, what’s best for your pet. Oh yeah, let’s not forget what’s best for the parent here too.
There is so much that can be done before you welcome a new pet or before you bring home your baby, to really reduce the chances of problems. If you have existing pets and children that don’t have a positive relationship, so much can be done to improve their relationship. It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom.
Personally I’ve welcomed babies into the home with existing dogs and I’ve adopted young dogs into a home with children. I’ve also assisted clients with cats that have found the adjustment of children difficult to navigate.
Some things to consider:
Life stage of the pet:
A baby growing up with a puppy sounds ideal but it might not be an ideal situation for the adults in the house. A puppy is like having a newborn at times. Waking in the night to toilet, full of energy, getting into things they shouldn’t be, the first 2 years can be tough and that’s just the puppy. Team that with the sleepless nights with a teething baby and I’m crying thinking about it.
A puppy needs exercise and training; can you give them the time they need? A kitten can be playful, but this can often involves claws and teeth. Can you give a kitten the appropriate outlets for these playful behaviours so they don’t start showing problem behaviours?
An older pet might be a better fit. Especially one from a rescue that has some information on their personality and whether they think they are suitable for a house with kids.
I had my first child when my dogs were seniors. The dogs were 13 years, 11 years and 8 years. Senior pets may not tolerate an active, boisterous youngster so that also needs to be taken into consideration.
Whilst each dog is an individual and has their own personality, some traits have been breed into dogs for years and they are very much part of their genetics. Knowing your breed can really help. The working line, high energy breed might not be suited to the household that can only exercise or play games at the weekend. The herding Collie might not be good for the small yard with lots of children running around. The Bengal cat might not be a good fit for the home that wants a lap cat for their child. Doing a bit of research before adding a pet can save a lot of headache.
Do you have them set up?
Having clear boundaries in place in the home will provide a safe space for your child and your pet.
For cats this can involve having perches up high in quiet areas they can retreat to. For dogs, a crate or gated off area where they can retreat to chill out or eat in peace. Management is key in preventing a problem arising. If your dog is a chaser of small, noisy children, make sure they are somewhere else when your child is in the garden playing.
There is so much more that can be done to improve the relationship between our kids and fur babies, so I’ll do a further post on that in the future.
(All pictures are authors own)
Oday Vets Dog Training can help with problems you may be experiencing with your children and pets. Or if you are considering adding a pet to your household, we can help you with your options and plan management in advance to reduce stress and potential problems. If you are located outside of Centurion, Zoom consults are also available.