~Alejandra Roca, Redfin Specialist
No doubt, pets are good for kids – they encourage empathy, foster self esteem, and can even reduce asthma. They can also be a lesson in responsibility (though let’s be honest – you’ll likely end up doing most of the work). But sometimes things go wrong, resulting in a scratch or bite. Fortunately, you can help prevent these unhappy accidents by laying down some ground rules.
Introducing a new pet to the house
Before you even bring the pet home, teach your kids that animals are not toys, and their space needs to be respected. Show them pictures of dog body language, including tucked tail, lip licking, and “whale eye,” so they understand how to read the way a dog feels. Cowering, bared teeth, or growling means “do not approach!” Understanding basic dog behaviors will help kids avoid dog bites.
Have the kids make introductions one at a time so the new dog or cat doesn’t feel bombarded. Use “time out” to separate a dog from a child when they aren’t practicing good manners. When the dog comes back into the room, have the child invite them with petting, play, or a treat.
It takes a while for a new pet to acclimate to your house. They will want to sniff around and explore, so escort them, but try not to overwhelm them with stimuli. If there are other pets at home, separate them until the new arrival is settled. Create a safe space for your cat where the dog can’t reach, and don’t let the dog chase or corner the cat, even if tails are wagging. Praise and reward every time your crew does something good with each other, no matter how small or simple. This will get them to think of each other as bearers of love and affection.
Introducing a new baby to the house
The arrival of a new baby means less attention for the dog (sorry, Fido!) and just like an only child, this can cause some jealousy initially. To taper this effect, slowly reduce the amount of attention you give your dog throughout the day in anticipation of a new child. Make sure your dog obeys basic commands, like sit, stay, and “leave it,” even from across the room.
Cats are sensitive to change in their environment, so help them adjust by bringing baby clothes home from the hospital and letting them have a sniff, or playing baby noises at a low volume. Don’t allow pets access to the baby’s crib, and never leave them unattended. Use a baby gate to separate the two if you can’t be there to directly supervise.
With a little foresight, you can help ensure that the relationship between your kids and pets goes off without a hitch. Watch for signs of stress and don’t be afraid to step in if you sense aggression. Remain vigilant, and with any luck, your kids and pets will become fast friends.
Original article found HERE