Children can form lasting bonds with companion animals like cats and dogs, but harmonious relationships often take time and planning.
It’s important to prepare your children for your new pet by teaching them how to behave around animals, care for them, and keep themselves safe.
Choosing a Pet For Your Family
One of the most important decisions you’ll make is what type of pet to choose. Consider your financial position, time constraints, lifestyle, living situation and your children’s ages.
Some people can only commit to a goldfish, while others have time for a dog’s training and care requirements.
If you plan to adopt from a pet shelter, bring your children along to help find a suitable companion. Shelter staff may be able to assist with this.
Setting Family Rules
Once your pet is home, make some family rules regarding care and safety. These include not touching animals while they’re eating and sleeping, and how to handle pets gently and kindly.
Ensure your pet has a safe space to call their own, away from family members.
You can also teach your children how to feed and exercise their pet and recognise signs of happiness, stress, or fear, such as wagging tail, yawning, and hissing.
Inviting a new pet into the family home can be exciting, but planning is crucial to ensure it goes off without a hitch.
Tips for Introducing a Dog or Puppy
There are more than six million dog owners in Australia, meaning millions of families have successfully welcomed dogs into their homes. Follow these tips for a stress-free introduction:
- Ask children to sit quietly and calmly.
- Let the dog investigate their new family members.
- Instruct your children to speak softly.
- Teach your children to stroke the dog gently on the shoulder rather than the head or tail.
- Provide a treat for the dog when they remain calm.
- Remove the focus from the dog to allow them to settle into their new environment.