How to Make Sure Your Pet Is Your Child’s Best FriendBy Child Safety Specialist Jul 12 , 2010 | 11:05:00 amPosted in: Child Safety, Family, Pet Safety
I will admit, I’m a huge animal lover and I know that many people, who have a pet before they have kids, consider their pet their first child. These same people would never dream that their docile, friendly pet would ever do anything to hurt their child. But, the reality is, they are animals with natural instincts and we’ve all heard tragic stories where a family pet has attacked a child.
Several years ago I was hosting a child safety seminar and one of the attendees was late because she had been at the emergency room with her child. Her son had crawled under a table at her father’s house where his 10 year-old Schnauzer was eating. The dog, who had never been aggressive in his life, bit the child on the face.
Having a pet is a great experience for kids but it’s important to establish a safe relationship right from the start:
Start introducing your baby even before she comes home from the hospital – Bring home a blanket or piece of clothing that the baby has worn so that your dog can get used to her scent immediately
Establish a safe eating place for your pet – Create an area where your pet eats that the baby cannot access. In addition to the danger of your child grabbing your dog’s food and being bitten, hard food is a choking hazard.
Don’t use stuffed animals as dog toys – Both your baby and your pet will become confused as to which belongs to whom if they both have stuffed animals as toys. Avoid friendly, but perhaps dangerous, “tug of war” games between your dog and your baby.
Teach your child proper “pet etiquette” – As soon as they’re old enough, teach your child how to treat an animal with respect – no pulling on their tail or other body part, no poking them with a toy or their finger and always approach an animal from the front. They also need to understand never to corner an animal and allow them their space.
Another hazard to keep in mind – “doggie doors” are a sure-fire escape method for an inquisitive crawler. A child as old as 3 can fit through one of these doors and be gone in an instant.
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