I love animals and enjoy being around them on the whole. But as a Mum, I will always be wary of animals and pets around my babies. Of course, millions of pet owners also have their small children around at the same time. I think it’s important to consider a few issues if you are about to take on a pet for the first time, though.
If you’ve got children, you can be certain they will be desperate to have a family pet – my son is desperate for a dog! It is a very good idea to have a pet in the home in most circumstances. It teaches the children empathy and responsibility. And pets make great playmates for the kids too! But as a pet owner, there are lots of responsibilities for you to take on too. Young pets can be just like young children at times. They are needy for your love and attention. And they can throw temper tantrums when they don’t get what they want!
One of the first things you need to consider when you get a new puppy or kitten is safety. Your home can be quite hazardous to a curious puppy. Keep everything they might chew on locked away. You can even use stair gates to keep them away from certain areas. Have designated areas for food, water and bed. These should be well away from where you might use chemicals or other harmful things like electronic devices.
Your puppy’s health is also important. Make sure the kids’ toys are well away so there is nothing the puppy can choke on or become tangled in. You can buy flea treatment for dogs online to save you a shopping trip. It should be used regularly to be sure there is no risk of an itchy infestation. Make sure you visit the vet regularly to ensure your new pet is in tip-top shape.
Training is really important too. Make it clear with the tone of your voice what is good behaviour and what is unacceptable. Cats have very sharp claws, but these are usually retracted so they won’t hurt your kids. But they might choose to sharpen them on your furniture. Getting a tall, sturdy scratching post is usually enough to stop that behaviour.
Dogs can get excited and jump up. Unfortunately, this is enough to knock toddlers off their feet. Some behaviourists suggest sending them for a time out on their doggy bed if they misbehave like that. Don’t let any of your pets climb into the baby’s crib. Pets need a bedtime routine as much as we do, so make sure they know where their own bed is.
Behaviour isn’t the only thing to be wary of. Your pet can also be harbouring germs and bacteria in their fur, on their paws and in their mouths. Get your kids in the habit of washing their hands after they’ve played with your pet. While it is good for kids to learn everything about caring for a dog, picking up after it is not advised while kids are still young. They shouldn’t be changing the litter tray either. All in all I think having a pet is a wonderful experience for kids. I have such fond memories of the pets that I had asa child. With a little planning and plenty of care, a pet can be a wonderful addition to any family.
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