Displaying a love for animals, especially dogs and cats, seems to come naturally to most children. For the most part, having a pet (or interacting with one) can be a fun, positive experience for all involved. However, it’s important to ensure the safety and wellbeing of both kids and pets to build a lifelong foundation of love and respect.
Approaching an Animal
When approaching an unfamiliar dog, make sure your child knows to always ask the owner first before petting. If the owner gives permission, the child should offer their hand, palm up, to be sniffed. If the dog seems accepting, your child may stroke their shoulder or chest.
Cats can seem slightly less predictable than dogs, and their body language isn’t always readily obvious to humans. In general, kids should know to let a cat come to them for affection. A cat who’s hissing, lashing their tail, has ears flattened, or one who walks away should be left alone.