boy and catIs there anything sweeter than the special relationship between a child and a pet? Kids and pets go together like peanut butter and jelly, milk and cookies, cheese and crackers, and…well, you get the picture! So perfectly complementary and utterly irresistible is this adorable combo it’s easy to presume that everything is – and always will be – naturally easy going and mutually beneficial.

In honor of National Kids and Pets Day, your friends at Billings Animal Family Hospital want to make sure that relationships between the species are safely supported. That way, you and your whole family can have the most possible fun!

Safety First!

While there is so much to be gained via pet ownership and companionship, it’s important to consider that kids can find trouble fairly quickly around animals.

For example:

  • Half of all canine attacks involve kids younger than 12 years old
  • More than 80% of dog bites that require care in the ER affect kids 15 years and younger

For all the wonder and delight inherent in the kids and pets dynamic, there are equal dangers. However, with your preparation, communication, and leadership, everything can remain hunky-dory.

Tips for Kids and Pets

Kids can be highly unpredictable and a typical behavior may change on a whim – and this may be highly evident when in the presence of an animal. We encourage you to model to your child how to behave around the family pet. To avoid a physical reaction from a pet, such as a bite or scratch, never accept behaviors like:

  • Pulling or yanking on a pet’s tail, legs, or ears
  • Hitting, kicking, chasing, or taunting a pet
  • Invading a pet’s space when he or she eats, sleeps, chews on a bone, or plays with certain toys

Hall Monitor

It may seem strange to constantly monitor interactions between kids and pets, but if you have any doubt that you child knows how to treat a pet respectfully – or your pet isn’t entirely trustworthy yet – supervise them together. A fabulous program called Kids Interacting With Dogs Safely (KIDS) through American Humane may help enormously toward complete understanding.

An Eye On Training

Have expectations for your pet, too! Chances are, your pet wants to please you. Teach him or or what the boundaries are (in general and around your child) and do not allow any corralling or bullying. For instance, dogs are pack animals and most will see you as the leader of the pack. However, a small child may easily be interpreted as a threat or lower on down the totem pole than him or herself. Common reactions to this mindset include knocking over small children, or bumping into them to show dominance.

The bottoms line is that to keep your kids and pets safe, everyone must follow your rules.

The Big “R”

Responsibility is an incredible life skill that can be taught via pet ownership. If your child is old enough, invite him or her to help with feeding, exercising, and grooming the family pet. This will also help your pet learn that your child can be trusted, and feelings of safety and security will seal the deal!

Enjoy Your Day

Whether your family decides to just hang out at home or get outside on National Kids and Pets Day, our staff applauds you for nurturing a relationship that truly matters. If you have any questions (or want to share any plans for the special occasion) please give us a call!