There is much debate whether to have a pet and a baby in the house simultaneously. If your pet is good with kids and can tolerate the sometimes less-then-gentle handling of a toddler, than having a pet would work for you and your family. Some pets are more agreeable and loving than other pets. Cats and dogs are the usual pets, but other animals have also been known to be kid-friendly. Billy goats and other farm animals can also be good candidates for household pets.
Selecting a dog or cat for your baby or toddler can be complicated. Certain breeds of dogs are known to be better than others. Golden retrievers and border collies are routinely ranked as top breeds for being kid-friendly. Some cats love kids. Some do not. It helps if you acquire a kitten and train it to tolerate young children and their rough behaviors.
In addition to training your pet to respond calmly to young children, you need to also provide guidance to your child on how to safely and respectfully treat the family pet. Healthy play habits between pets and the children of the family do not always occur naturally on their own. Establishing a healthy relationship with your child and the family pet can be a challenge.
Teaching your child to “play nice” with your kitty or doggie can be achieved through play dates between your child and Fido or Fluffy. These play dates must be closely supervised by you. These play dates are just like the play dates you would schedule with another child to help build social skills.
Some activities include the following:
- Have your child lie on the floor allowing your cat or dog jump over them.
- Play hide and seek. Have your child hide and tell them to call the pet’s name. If your child does not talk yet, hide with your child and call your dog or cat’s name so they can find you both.
- Place peanut butter or ketchup on your child’s fingers and have your pet lick it off.
- If your baby or toddler can sit in a high chair, have them drop food down to the your pet and watch your child smile and giggle when the pet eats the food.
- Practice “pet nice” with your young child and your cat or dog. Take your child’s hand and pet your dog or cat saying words like “pet nice” and “love the kitty” so your toddler will learn to be respectful and kind to your pet.
Kids are fast and there will undoubtedly be times when while your back is turned, your toddler will pick up the cat by his neck and walk around the house carrying the poor strangling kitty like that. This is where having a patient, tolerant and calm pet is very important. Don’t try and kid yourself by saying that will never happen, because if you are parent of a toddler, you know how quick they move. If you have a dangerous and easily agitated pet, then please find another home for the animal. It is imperative for the well-being and safety of your child that you do.