Teaching Toddlers and Pets to Get Along

Toddlers are notorious for being curious. If you have a dog or cat in the home that is unaccustomed to the noise and havoc of a toddler, you may find yourself wondering how to get the two to get along. It is possible teach your child to treat your animal with respect from the very begining. Toddlers and pets can make wonderful companions when taught proper respect. Toddlers can pull tails, eat dog food and want to take your pet for a walk in the stroller. Your dog or cat may retaliate by biting, scratching or hiding. There are ways that you can help your pet and your toddler get along together. It is

The first step in teaching your pet and toddler to get along is to teach your child proper pet etiquette. This means that from an early age, your toddler should understand that pets have feelings, too. They do not want to be distracted from a nap or have their tail pulled. Your child will naturally be curious about your pet and that is acceptable. You must teach your child about the needs of your pets and enforce those rules each and every time. It might be helpful to teach your child to apologize to the pet when he or she accidently steps on a tail or plays a little too rough. It might seem silly, but this will teach your child that they should be courteous to the pet, just as they would a person.

Your child will probably find the food and water bowls as well as the litter box as soon as they start walking and exploring. It goes without saying that because these things should be off limits to your child. While chewing on a doggie kibble will not hurt your child, they should understand the difference between “people” food and pet food. If you have a litter box that is easily accessible to your toddler, try keeping the box covered or place a baby gate to separate your child from the litter box. Cats can easily jump over a gate when they need to, or if you place the gate just a few inches above the floor, the cat can crawl under. Also, remember that some pets, especially dogs, can become startled or scared if interuppted during a meal. This can lead to biting. Teach your child that eating is serious business for your pet and they should not be interupted during this time.

A child also should learn that dogs and cats are not play toys and that they should be respected as people. Teach your child that when they pull a dog’s ear or tail, that they experience pain, just as people do. You should always teach your child to respect your cat or dog while they are asleep or eating. Show your child your pet’s claws or sharp teeth and let them know that using those defenses are the way a dog or cat communicates when they are upset. It is also a good idea to teach your child about the different ways your pet can communicate through body language. A cat that is thumping his or her tail or is pulling their ears back is mad. Your child should understand that this is the way your kitty is telling your child to back off.

Teach your child positive body language, too. A dog with a wagging tail is ready to play. Also, it is a good idea to teach your child through example, how to hold, pet and care for an animal. Show you child fun and easy ways to play with your pet such as throwing a ball to your dog. Praise both your child and your pet when they exhibit positive behavior around each other. Children who learn to respect animals from an early age can enjoy the friendship of the family pets. It is important for your child to understand that your dog or cat can be a loving friend for life.

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