Children and Pets: Preparing for Tugs, Hugs, and Squeals

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My pets were accustomed to gentle handling and the quiet voices of adults.   However, that all changed when we decided to become parents!  So here’s what we did to help them prepare.

 

Tugs

Although we planned on teaching baby Darr to be gentle and kind to pets, we understood that the occasional tail tug, poke, ear pull, hair yank, etc may happen.  I wanted my dogs and cats to be prepared.   So we worked to get them used to child-like handling.  While I pet Ruby, I gently grabbed a bit of skin and jiggled it a bit.  Then I released and praised, praised, praised.   Over time I worked on grabbing it more quickly with a little more force (but NEVER painfully).

 

 

Hugs

Again, we will teach our children that pets don’t enjoy hugs as much as we do as many pets feel trapped and possibly threatened by hugs.   However, I wanted my dogs to be prepared in the event of stolen hugs (or a toddler falling over and grabbing the dog by accident).   Ruby was fairly used to hugs since we’ve been practicing this for years.  When you’re a veterinarian’s dog, learning to accept gentle restraint is a must!  We gave gentle, brief hugs followed by a lot of praise.   We released Ruby before she got too uncomfortable or frightened.

 

Squeals (and other baby noises)

Babies and children make a lot of noises – some of which may be quite alarming to your pets.  Chase and I prepared Ruby by making some odd noises of different volumes.  We started out with quieter squeals and coos followed by praise and a treat when our she stayed calm.   Now we are working on some louder noises.  You could also play internet videos of laughing or crying babies to help your pets

 

 

 

This blog is simply what Dr. Katie and her family did prepare for the baby.   There is NO SUBSTITUTE FOR TRAINING YOUR DOG, and none of this blog is meant to replace advice from a qualified trainer.   We recommend taking an obedience course with your dog, and seeking the expertise of a qualified trainer if any issues arise.  We also recommend preparing your pets for a new baby before the new baby arrives.    Call us if you have questions.

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Children and Pets: Playing it Safe

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Although training and preparing your pets for a new arrival is important, there is no substitute for supervision.  Even the most tolerant, kindest pet has its limits!  Here are some tips to keep your children and your pets safe (from each other).

 

ALWAYS SUPERVISE!  Many accidents are preventable, but this takes constant vigilance.  Dogs often give warnings before a bite occurs.   For example, when Ruby gets uncomfortable with a small visitor, she goes under the kitchen table.  If a dog can’t get away from what is bothering it, what form of communication do they have left?  If escape is not possible, growling, barking, snapping, or biting may be how your dog communicates its discomfort.   If your dog is retreating from a child (or anyone), it’s time to intervene!  Remove the person or remove the dog from the situation!

 

I have observed on multiple occasions parents allowing their children to clobber the family pet.   My advice is to teach your children to handle pets gently.  If you won’t let your children do it to another human being, don’t let them do it to your dog.   Have clear boundaries set and stick to them!

 

I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to supervise your children and pets at all times!  If you aren’t there to intercede when your pet is showing signs of discomfort, both your children and your pets are at risk of serious injury and possibly death.  If your pet already has some signs of aggression, even mild ones, seek the help of a qualified trainer.  It’s also a good idea to make sure your pets don’t have any underlying medical issues (like pain) that can increase aggression.    You can schedule an appointment with one of our veterinarians to make sure your pet is good health by calling 573-875-3647.

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