Little boy and large dogAs every graduate knows, making a good impression is critical on the first try. Similarly, a positive introduction between a child and a pet is essential to overall success. While companionship is never guaranteed, relationships are much more likely to flourish when everyone gets started on the right foot…or paw!

Before introducing your pet to children, The Pet Experts at Elmhurst Animal Care Center have compiled a few tricks to smooth out any social wrinkles and keep everyone safe.

Why it Matters

The number of preventable dog bites is astounding – especially when you consider that kids are the primary victims. What’s more alarming is that most offending canines are typically not strangers. Indeed, it’s common for family pets to bite (or scratch) in reaction to the unpredictability of children.

Tips for Success

To mitigate future spats or attacks, we recommend introducing your pet to children with great care and planning. A negative or upsetting experience could taint your pet’s future interactions with kids in general. Therefore, a positive introduction requires your total and complete attention.

Subtle Hints

If your pet has never interacted with children or is frightened or skittish, it’s best to proceed with sensitivity and caution. Tips include:

  • Train your pet! While early socialization is preferred, your pet can definitely learn throughout life. If you own a dog, he or she should be accustomed to walking on a leash before engaging with kids. Teaching your pet how to behave is vital to successful interactions.
  • Give him or her a generous dose of physical exercise before introducing your pet to children. The goal is to cultivate and maintain a relaxed encounter. Running around will release any pent up energy that could otherwise be directed at kids.
  • Allow your pet to come and investigate his or her new prospective friend. Do not allow kids to invade your pet’s space.
  • Teach children how to handle animals appropriately. To begin, have your child count to 5 while gently petting the back. Then stop to check whether your pet wants more attention.
  • Increase time together as you see fit, but always supervise interactions between pets and children.
  • Never allow a child to interrupt while your pet is eating, napping, playing with a chew toy, or caring for his or her young.
  • Keep a close eye on your pet’s body language. If you notice stress, aggression, or anxiety, it’s time to re-schedule.

Introducing Your Pet to Children

Of course, you want to aim for the most positive and pleasant encounter between your pet and the kids in your life. However, it doesn’t always work out right away. In that case:

  • Move your pet to a familiar location that’s safe and quiet. Encourage rest or grooming.
  • Never force an interaction to go on longer than necessary. Your pet may need some time to process or warm up to children.

Please contact us if we can be of help when it comes to introducing your pet to children. The Pet Experts at Elmhurst Animal Care Center are always happy to assist!