Children's Pet SafetyTips

Monday, May 3, 2010

May 2-8 is Be Kind to Animals Week -- Teaching your children basic safety tips around pets can protect them in many ways. A child that is growled at, or bit at a young age will usually develop and retain a fear of animals. Without the proper basic instruction, children may become injured and afraid of pets for the rest of their lives. The first step in helping protect your children is to get obedience training for your dog, which will help you control your pet around children. Then teach your children the tips below that experts suggest all children be taught at a young age. These tips will help your child enjoy, respect, and understand your pet's behavior.

1. Let your dog or cat eat without being disturbed. Explain to your children that cats and especially dogs can become defensive around the food dish. Do not sneak up on, or put your hand near the bowl when the pet is eating.

2. Some dogs are very attached to their balls and toys. Never take a toy or bone from a dog's mouth unless the dog is willing to drop it. If the dog is unwilling to drop the toy tell your children to have an adult get the toy.

3. Show your children how to pet an animal nicely. Do not pull the animal's tail, ears, poke their eyes or throw things at them. Teach them animals are not toys.

4. Never sneak up on a pet. If frightened, dogs and cats can become defensive, and pet birds can injure themselves. Approach the cat, dog, or pet from the front with your hands visible and speak in a low soothing voice. Don't allow children to play any "hide and seek" or "sneak up on the pet" games.

5. Show your children how to observe body language. Tell your children that since dogs and cats can't talk, they communicate by using body language. Dogs that have their tail up, ears back, hair standing, are barking, growling, or showing teeth, are all signs that the dog is being bothered and should not be confronted. Cats that have their hair standing, tail stiff, ears back, are hissing, and have dilated eyes are signs that they are being bothered, and should not be confronted. Tell your children if they are ever face to face with a dog showing these signs to not scream, run or stare into the animal's eyes. Tell them if they run, the dog will usually chase and may attack. Always walk away slowly with no fast movements while avoiding any eye contact with the dog. Be sure your children know to immediately tell an adult if a dog, cat or other type of animal ever bites them.

6. Do not invade a dog's space. Tell your children to never stick their hand in a car window, pickup truck bed, or dog pen. The dog might bite to defend his territory or snap at your child after being awakened suddenly.

7. Do not get near or try to stop two dogs from fighting. They might become more excited if they are yelled at or separated. Tell them to get an adult to help.

8. Teach your children to wash their hands after playing with any animal or pet. Children may come in contact with all types of bacteria after playing with and touching a dog or cat. Turtles and reptiles are also carriers of salmonella and other bacteria.

9. Try to discourage your children from letting pets lick their face. While children are more likely to become infected with some type of bacteria by putting their hands in their mouth, it is still wise to tell your children to not let animals lick their face.

10. Tell your children to always ask for the owner's permission to pet an unknown dog or cat. Some dogs and cats are afraid of children, some might be sick or injured, and some dogs might be working dogs for the handicapped. There may be a number of reasons the pet should not be approached. Once they have permission from the dog's owner, they should then approach the pet slowly, allowing the dog or cat to smell their scent, and then pet the animal.


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