On April 26th, we’ll be observing the 12th National Kids and Pets Day. Founded back in 2005 by a pet and family lifestyle expert Colleen Paige, this day emphasizes socialization between domestic pets and kids, placing focus on safe interactions between the two and the benefits kids reap when they are brought up in a pet-loving home. It’s also an opportunity to educate people about the plight of animals who suffer in shelters waiting to be adopted by a loving family.
During a recent interview, Colleen Paige noted that kids grow up into loving and caring individuals only when they’ve had a chance to practice that sort of behavior from an early age. And what better way to practice than with a creature that entirely depends on them - a dog or a cat.
Of course, it’s important to be careful when exposing kids to animals. These handling tips should be considered when you’re introducing your two smallest and most precious house dwellers to each other.
Kids are notorious for their lack of respect for boundaries. Grown-ups will easily tolerate that sort of behavior, prescribing it to a lack of experience but animals are not generally that considerate. Teach your kid to approach new animals with caution, and gentleness. An animal will give consent, in its own way, if it’s ready to be touched or petted. The best introductions between pets and kids are gradual ones, where neither the pet nor the kid gets spooked. Also, teach your kid to always ask permission from the owner if they want to approach their pet.
Even Gentler Hands
New pets should always be approached calmly and without making any loud noises. Teach your kid to let a dog or a cat size them up before fully approaching. Cats are approached softly, avoiding sudden moves, and dogs need to be allowed to get familiar with the scent before anything else - approaching with an open palm towards the nose is generally a good idea. A dog will let them know whether or not they willing to play.
Recognizing the Warning Signs
Animals are sometimes not in the mood to play and it’s important that your kid recognizes the behavior they tend to exhibit in such situations. Head turning, showing teeth, cowering, growling, ears drawn back, or retreating are the usual signs that an animal doesn’t want to be touched at that moment.
What Can Your Kid Learn from a Pet?
In addition to the cute-factor, there are tons of other benefits for kids socializing with pets - health, emotional, and developmental benefits you will quickly recognize. Here are our favorites:
Respect - once your kid learns to respect their pet, they’re going to have an easier time respecting other people too. Pets have feelings and when you impress that upon a kid it’s more likely that they’ll treat it with love and compassion.
Responsibility - it’s important for a kid to learn responsibility from an early age. Having a pet will do that - they will have to take care of another living being that totally depends on them. Groomings, feedings, and walks will teach your kid a valuable lesson about honoring one’s commitments.
Health - did you know that spending time with a pet reduces a kid’s blood pressure? Or that kids who interact with pets have a 33% lowered likelihood of developing allergies?
Emotional support and self-esteem - pets give love unconditionally, regardless of social status, physical appearance, or anything else for that matter. They don’t pass judgment - this is an important lesson your kid will learn from an early age.
A word of caution for vapers. We’re sure you’re keeping a close eye on your vape gear and storing it out of reach of children. However, it’s important to keep your pets out of harm's ways as well. Never leave your vape juices lying around because they can seriously jeopardize the health of your pet.
We want to leave you with this great montage of kids and pets - it brightened up our day and we’re sure it’s going to brighten yours, as well!