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Quick Tips for Creating Safe Child and Pet Interactions

Pets can be a wonderful addition to a family and the bond that can develop between children and companion animals can be incredibly rewarding to the child, pet, and family unit as a whole. Here are 5 tips to help ensure pet interactions are safe and enjoyable for everyone involved!

  1. Encourage children to give animals space. Consider establishing an animal’s bed or crate as a no-go zone for children. When an animal chooses to spend quiet time in that area, teach children to wait until later to play/cuddle them.
  2. Show children what areas are nice to pet on an animal and what areas to avoid. For example, petting gently along the back is a great way to build a bond with an animal. Avoid pulling on ears, tails, touching sensitive areas on the belly, head, or paws. Avoid squeezing, grabbing, or laying on an animal even if the animal seems to tolerate it.
  3. Some animals find it difficult when a person approaches them while they are eating a meal, chewing a tasty bone, or playing with a favorite toy. Consider teaching children to avoid taking anything from an animal and leave that to the adults.
  4. Have children get involved in the day-to-day care of a pet! Having your child help scoop food into a food dish and/or add water to a water bowl are great ways to add simple chores to their daily routine and can help build fine motor skills.
  5. For a pet that enjoys grooming, having a child help brush their pet can be an incredible bonding experience. Be sure to use a safe brush that poses no risk to the animal if the child pushes too hard (a Kong Zoom Groom is a great example) and teach the child to brush gently following the direction from head to tail.