5 Ways to Introduce Pets Into Your Home With Small Children

Source: @luckyandi
Source: @luckyandi

The benefits of children growing up in a home with a pet are bountiful. Children can learn how to be responsible, grow in their emotional and mental depth, and much more—and, of course, pets add a touch of warmth to families. Once they have been properly introduced, pets truly do become a part of the family and are sure to create memorable moments.

A survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association revealed an average of 90.5 million homes include a pet. For parents who do not have pets in their homes, the decision to add one may or may not be easy to make. While it’s easy to socialize pets with adults, teaching both pets and young children how to interact with each other is a different story. 

However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be as daunting as you think! If you prepare the child and the pet early and in the right way, it can be quite easy. Here are a few ways to introduce pets safely to your infants and young children.


1. Prepare Pet(s) Before the Baby is Born

If you already have a pet and are expecting the birth of a baby, it is important to start preparing the pet before the baby comes home from the hospital. One of my favorite family YouTube channels, Milperthusky, recently welcomed their infant daughter but spent time preparing their huskies for her arrival. This involved allowing them into the nursery area of the home and letting them sniff areas where the baby will be. Aside from that, it’s important to make sure pets have received all of the proper veterinarian checkups. It’s also important that behavior that could present an issue is corrected before the birth of the baby.


2. Teach Younger Children How to Interact With a Pet

If you have a toddler or older children, teaching them how to interact with pets is as crucial as socializing pets with them. Because toddlers and young children often do not know their strength, they can be prone to handling pets in a manner that might make pets uncomfortable. Showing them how to be gentle when touching pets can ease any discomfort or anxiety a pet may have. Before children even get to this point, it’s vital to let pets sniff the children. This helps them formally “greet” children. 



3. Monitor Pet and Child Interactions

Even if you trust your pet with your life, it’s unsafe to leave small children and pets alone. It’s important to always be near so you can monitor their actions. This helps set up a safety boundary, which in turn leads to the establishment of other boundaries. 


4. Establish Boundaries

Again, this goes for both pets and children. Children need to be aware that they should not disturb pets when they are eating or sleeping. Explain that pets need their space sometimes. On the other hand, teach pets that certain behaviors (i.e. jumping, biting, being aggressive in general) are not tolerated. If these things are not corrected in the beginning, there is a chance the relationship between your pets and children will be a volatile one. The key is to teach both pets and children how to be respectful of each other. 


5. Ask for Permission When Introducing Your Children to Strangers’ Pets

This is one of the most important things to remember when introducing pets to children and vice versa. Although it’s common and normal for children to become excited when they see pets in public, it is wise to ask the owner if it is OK for the child to interact with a pet. Just because a pet may look friendly does not necessarily mean that it is. This is especially true if that pet has not been socialized with young children. 

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