Rocklin Ranch Veterinary Hospital’s Blog
Kids and Pet Care: One Big Happy Family
Most pet lovers first connect with animals during childhood – and for many of us, the lasting impression of that experience endures far into adulthood. There’s no doubt that children and pets have a mutually beneficial relationship, but it’s not always one that comes automatically.
With the right recipe of awareness, patience, time, and trust, you can easily integrate your kids into the daily routines your family pet depends on. Making the effort to involve your kids with your pet’s care will not only help to endear your pet to your children, but will also teach your them about the wonders and responsibilities of pet ownership and the human-animal bond.
Whether your child is showing an interest in more hands-on care with your family pet, or has hopes for a new adoption, there are certain steps you should take to help everyone succeed.
First, encourage your child to learn about your pet’s species or breed through books, magazines, and videos. If your pet has specific needs, be open and honest with your child about those needs, and help him or her incorporate that information into their care. Over time, your pet will learn to trust your child and the foundation for life-long loyalty will be established.
Boundaries and Tasks
Shelter pets can be extraordinary family pets provided their temperament has been tested to not only tolerate children, but adore them. Kids love to hug, tug, nudge, make unpredictable noises and movements, and generally have little appreciation for boundaries.
Your pet may tolerate this for awhile, but this type of stimulation can inspire impatience, irritability, and aggression even in the sweetest and most loving animal.
The bottom line for all interactions between pets and children is constant adult supervision. Depending on your child’s age, he or she will enjoy feeding, watering, walking, or playing with your family pet and may easily and quickly graduate to:
- Bathing and grooming (brushing fur and, for older kids, helping to trim nails)
- Training and teaching new tricks
- Feeding and watering your pet
- Keeping a food inventory
- Shopping for pet food
- Picking out treats
- Checking on bedding and washing it, if necessary
- Helping to secure fencing
- Cleaning up after pet (in the yard or litterbox)
- Keeping leash and gear clean and in the correct spot
Kids and Pet Care – Staying Safe
Your pet may need time and space after putting up with your child’s constant attention. To regain a sense of calm and balance within the home, we recommend that you keep a designated area kid-free.
Help your child understand that when your pet retreats, he or she should be left alone until ready to rejoin the family.
Foster Responsible Pet Ownership
We appreciate the sense of wonder children have for animals. The family pet plays an important role in your child’s development by providing opportunities for understanding, compassion, responsibility, and friendship that will last an entire lifetime.
Please let us know if we can help you and your child along the way.