Is your family expanding on the 25th to include a new dog or cat? Vanessa Budnick, humane educator for the Society for the Prevention and Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) of Wake County, helped us with an article in a past issue of Families First magazine.
Budnick offered the following tips to ensure a happy, healthy home for puppy, kitty and kids.
Coaching Your Children
#1 – Teach kids to be kind & gentle to pets.
- Since a child’s sense of empathy is still developing, young children may not understand that pulling or poking can be painful, so the proper way to treat animals needs to be explained and reiterated in a kind and gentle way.
#2 – Avoid extremely close contact/smothering.
- Children often want to come really close and try to hug dogs or cats, which is not normal canine or feline behavior. It can be strange and startling to an animal, so children should be discouraged from abruptly hugging or otherwise startling pets.
#3 – Do not interrupt pets while they are eating or playing with toys.
- Pets may guard their resources (food or toys) so kids should taught not interfere with the pet’s food, treats or toys.
What to Expect from Your Pet
#1 – Pay attention to your pet’s reaction and body language.
- Observing your pet is important. Some animals are extremely tolerant and others are not, so you should never make assumptions about how they will behave.
#2 – Allow dogs ‘alone time’ when chewing bones/rawhides.
- Bones and rawhides are “high value” possessions for dogs, so they should be alone and away from children when they have those items.
Even if you embrace these guidelines, introducing a new pet is bound to present some unexpected, funny and challenging moments. Just remember that time spent with an animal can be very rewarding and healing for children. Plus, an active animal can motivate a child and a family to get outside – yes, even in the winter!
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