If there are two enjoyable things that are good for children, it’s playtime and having furry pals. Good interactions with animals can be great for the development of kids, and studies even show that children who have attached pets when they are young end up with a lower risk of mental health issues when they hit puberty.
It can be a wonderful gift to give your children the joy of interacting with animals, so it’s a good idea to let them know how to make the most of the experience. There are a few things you’ll want to let your kids know when playing with animals, just so you don’t have to worry about playtime taking a turn. With just ten helpful reminders, both the kids and your animal pals will be sure to have a good time.
Don’t Pull on Tails, Ears, and Fur
When teaching your kids about animal safety, one of the basic rules to prioritize is to avoid pulling on tails, ears, and fur. Kids have a tendency to do this, not necessarily out of malicious intent, but just because animals are so cuddly and cute that they can’t resist.
Simply remind them that, unlike stuffed toys, this can make animals feel like they’re being pinched and prodded. This will make the animals feel more comfortable and ensure that your kids don’t run the risk of getting scratched or bitten.
Be Patient with Less Affectionate Animals
Not all animals have the same temperament, and this can be disappointing for a kid that wants to have a cuddly pal or an energetic playmate. Make sure you set your child’s expectations so they know how to handle different personalities when it comes to animals. A good pointer is to remind them that being patient will be rewarding once the animal trusts them!
Watch What Treats You Give
Children often want to give animals a treat while they’re playing as a token of affection. Even adults can’t resist slipping a snack to a furry friend!
What’s important is that you let your kids know that they need to be mindful of what they feed their animal friends. There are many common mistakes in feeding cats and dogs that kids can end up doing accidentally, so just let them know that pets have specific types of food that is good for them and it’s best to stick to a particular feeding time.
Wash Your Hands After Playing
It’s never a bad time to remind your child to wash their hands, especially if they love playing outdoors. This is particularly important, though, when dealing with animals that have different germs and bacteria. Whether they are regularly bathed or love exploring the outside, they still carry a lot of bacteria that can make a person sick.
This doesn’t have to be a scary topic you broach with your child. It can just be a habit of cleanliness that is maintained with every interaction regardless if it’s with an animal or a person.
Ask Permission If They Aren’t Your Pets
When kids take to animals, there’s a tendency for them to want to play with every animal they meet. Make sure you let them know the value of boundaries and asking permission, particularly if the animal they want to play with belongs to someone else. After all, other people may not be comfortable or have pets with specific conditions.
Most pet owners tend to be happy to let their pets interact with other people, but make sure you’re ready to comfort your child should they be rejected. Let them know ahead that not everyone will allow them to play with their pets.
Let Animals Be If They Get Scared or Aggressive
It’s crucial to let your child know that scared or aggressive animals need to be left alone. This is a safety measure that ensures playtime doesn’t turn into boo-boos and a visit to the doctor. Aside from reminding them to know when to hang back, it’s best to teach your kids the signs of aggression in dogs, cats, and other animals.
Not only will this help them stay vigilant, but it will also make them less afraid of other animals that may simply be hyper and friendly.
Be Respectful When Befriending an Animal
Lots of kids enjoy pranks and mischievous fun, so parents will want to remind them that animals don’t really get that kind of stuff. Even if many types of animals are very insightful when it comes to feeling a person’s vibe, this doesn’t mean they will be able to differentiate teasing from blatant bothering.
Just let your kids know that every animal deserves respect, and they will have an easier time befriending all manner of species. It also helps avoid getting nicked by an impatient cat or a dog that ends up thinking roughhousing is fine.