Things to teach your kids when you have pets

Growing up with a pet is a beautiful thing. It is not only fun, it teaches kids fundamental things about life such as empathy.

We have blogged before about the benefits of growing up with a pet, and about things that dogs must learn before a baby enters a family  But there are also things that kids must learn when they are lucky enough to share their life with pets. Here is a short list:

enfants et chien
  1. Never disturb a sleeping pet : Dogs and cats should be able to get their beauty sleep. If they are sleeping, they are simply not interested in playing or in being petted. Some pets can be grumpy when they are awoken (so can we!). Some pets can even react aggressively in their sleepy state without being fully aware of what they are doing. Waking up a pet is not fair, and it is dangerous.
  2. And never disturb a pet while he or she is eating: Eating is very important for a dog or a cat; their survival depends on it! Some pets, especially dogs, develop food aggression: They react aggressively to other animals or people who disturb them when they eat, fearing that food will be taken away from them. This is very dangerous when there are kids in the picture, so it is important to train your dog using positive reinforcement if this is a problem in your house. But if an animal does not react aggressively does not mean it likes to be bothered while eating. It is therefore a MUST NOT DO at all times, any times.
  3. Let them be: The dog or cat leaves the kid alone? Well, he simply wants to be left alone, and he SHOULD be left alone. Pets have little to say in their daily agenda, so it is important to respect any decision they make and to not insist on having interaction with them when they simply need some time alone to reset their social batteries.
  4. Pet GEN-TLY:  Babies’ touch can be rude and awkward, so pets should learn to tolerate it to a certain point to avoid accidents Discover More. Older kids can however learn how they dog their dog and cat likes to be petted: On which body parts, how gently or strongly, etc. At all times these interactions should be supervised, however.
  5. Teach them what your dog knows: While kids are probably not the best person in the family to train their dog, they can still ask the dog for behaviour he already knows. This way, they will learn to interact with their dog and be respected by him. A kid should never discipline a dog, however. All training should be positive for both the kid and the dog.
  6. Their dog is not all dogs: Kids need to learn that what they can do with their dog or cat is not what they should do with all dogs or cats. Their pet is more receptive and tolerant of their behaviour, because they know them, and most probably love them. Some dogs or cats do not like children, or are scared of them. Teach your kid this sad but important truth.
  7. Learn canine or feline language: Cats and dogs have what we call calming signals, which are signals they use when they are stressed and uncomfortable. It is very important your kid knows when your dog or cat is comfortable or uncomfortable. Your kid does not have to know ALL calming signals: His or her pet probably has a favourite that it uses in most situations, so teach him or her this one first!