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Children and Animals – staying safe.

Date: March 31, 2015 Author: Bumpkins Team Categories: #TheBumpkinsDifference, Parents' Tips and Tricks

Children and animals

At Bumpkins Nursery we think that children and animals can go together beautifully.
However, it’s important to teach children animal safety from a very young age.

Children and animals Keeping animals as pets is a lovely way to encourage affection, companionship and fun for your child. The loving relationship children develop with a pet will become a wonderful memory as they grow and their pet will often be the first they will ‘talk’ to about any worries they have. Learning to be a responsible pet owner is a great thing however there are risks, not only to your child but also to the pet themselves! Take some time to teach your child how to behave around animals and you can reduce this risk.

Pets in the Home

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Dogs are present in around 24% of homes and cats in around 17% of homes so even if you do not have a pet, your child is likely to visit relations or friends that do.

  • Any dog or cat, however gentle, can bite so always supervise your child with their pet.
  • Teach your child when to leave their pet alone – never let them attempt to play when the animal is eating or sleeping and they must never pull a pet’s tail.
  • Train your dog to ‘sit’ on command so they can be stopped quickly should they become too boisterous.
  • Never let a dog play with your child’s toys, as this can encourage them to be possessive and snatch toys from your child’s hand.

Things you can do to help encourage a good relationship between child and pet is to help your child learn what body language your dog will display when they no longer want to play. Growling or showing their teeth is a last resort for dogs so watch for the more subtle displays such as a scared dog making itself small or an aggressive dog puffing up its tail and making itself look bigger. An older child could research this themselves as a project.

Dog Safety When Out and About

Teach children to be safe around animalsWhen out walking you will often encounter dogs so make sure your child knows to:

  • Always ask permission of the owner before petting a dog.
  • Offer a closed hand for the dog to sniff before patting them gently.
  • Never approach a dog running loose. Should they come near, teach your child to ‘be a tree’ by standing still, looking down and holding their arms steady, close to their body until it leaves.

Other Animals

Learning when a cat is becoming agitated is useful too: cats can bite and scratch when they feel threatened so knowing when to leave them alone is important. Smaller creatures such as hamsters, rabbits and snakes are all popular pets and it is just as important that your child knows how to play without hurting them.

Remember it’s not just bites or scratches that could be a risk to your child. Teach them about hygiene: to always wash their hands after playing with animals and not to let dogs lick their faces. With a little thought, your child can feel confident around animals and you can be confident you have reduced any risks to their safety.

Photos:  Paul A. Hernandez, Micolo J & Chris_Parfitt