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

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.


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).


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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