1111 El Camino Real - San Bruno, CA 94066 | (650) 583-5039

1111 El Camino Real - San Bruno, CA 94066 | (650) 583-5039

Raising Kids and Pets Together: A Guide For Harmony in the Household

What could be cuter than babies or puppies? Putting the two together, of course! And little ones playing with the family dog can be even cuter. That is, until they try pulling Fido’s tail. Ruh Roh!

While keeping a toddler from innocently harassing the family terrier can pose a challenge for any parent, we’ve rounded up some helpful—and ultimately very important—tips on keeping everyone safe and happy. 

You’ve likely heard (or said) the mantra: “hands, feet, and objects to yourself.” This is equally important in the world of our four-legged friends. Teaching our kids how to interact with pets starts with understanding and respecting the pet’s body and space. Much like a dance, where one learns the steps before taking to the floor, children need to learn the appropriate ways to engage with their furry family members, as well as unknown dogs that they might meet outside of their house. Just as we don’t appreciate unsolicited pokes and prods, neither do our pets. This is where ‘handling exercises’ come in handy (pun intended), setting the stage for a respectful relationship.

Training for Trust

Creating an environment of trust and respect goes both ways. While our dogs must learn the ins and outs of polite behavior, our children must understand that a pet is a living being deserving of kindness. Training sessions are a fantastic way for your child to bond with the pet. It’s a win-win: your pet learns to follow commands and associates your child with positive experiences, while your child learns responsibility and empathy.

Careful supervision of both pets and kids is essential. Younger kids may not fully grasp a pet’s behavior, and pets may misinterpret a child’s play. Together, they need adult oversight to prevent any missteps during playtime and make sure that things stay safe for everyone. 

A Dose Of Downtime

Everyone needs a little downtime— and the same is true for our pets. Providing a ‘safe space’ allows our pets to retreat and decompress away from the hustle and bustle of everyday family life. Explain to your children the importance of giving pets their own space, such as a crate or bed, to relax and recharge away from the family activity.

Positive Interactions

Involving your child in the tasks associated with pet care can create and strengthen a bond that is both deep and enduring. Feeding, playing, and walking are all activities that, when shared with a child, can reinforce a pet’s positive feelings towards their younger companions, as well as foster a sense of empathy and responsibility for the child.

A Tale of Two Ages

Match your pet’s energy and resilience level with your child’s. Energetic puppies and kittens may be more tolerant of lively play, while older pets often require a calmer environment. Educate your child on the need for calm interactions and a gentle touch with senior pets to build trust without causing stress.

Hey There, Stranger

It is very important for kids (and adults) not to pet dogs they encounter on the street without first asking the dogs’ owners first. People who are not experienced with canine body language may not recognize a dog that may be fearful or anxious when meeting a new person, which could result in a bite in the worst-case scenario. Teach your children never to attempt to pet a strange dog and to always ask for permission from the pup’s owner before interacting with them. 

Need help navigating the world of children and pets? We’re here to help! If you’d like more information and advice on creating a harmonious household with your kids and pets or would like some recommendations for trainers, we’ve got you covered. Call us at (650) 583-5039 to schedule a visit or ask for behavioral recommendations today!