Toddlers and Pets
Author: Heather Montgomery
A pet can be a toddler’s best friend. Whether your pet was a member of the family before your child arrived, or maybe you are considering adding a pet to your family, safety, allergies, the type of pet, and your toddler’s potential fears are important factors to consider.
The number one rule for children and pets is never leaving your pet unattended with your toddler. Even the friendliest pet can turn on a child if provoked enough. Use a stuffed animal to teach your child how to treat your pet. Pulling on ears and tails, or bothering the pet while eating, can lead to injury.
Some children can have allergies to pets that produce dander. Dogs and cats are the biggest culprits for these allergies. If you notice your child has a runny nose, sneezes, has itchy eyes or hives after handling your pet, take him to a doctor to evaluate the allergy. Fish are a good choice for children with an allergy.
Selecting Pets that are Good with Children
Dogs, cats, and fish are generally good pet choices for children. Birds, amphibians, and rodents may not be the best choice for children, as they can carry harmful diseases. When choosing a dog, research which breeds are good with children. Large and rambunctious dogs, such as Dalmatians or Dobermans, may be too aggressive with your child. In addition, small pets may feel intimidated by your child’s rough play and react by nipping at your child when cornered. Some breeds that are known for being good with kids are Golden Retrievers, Labradors, Boxers, Poodles, and Bichon Frises.
Take your toddlers personality into account when choosing a pet. A rambunctious child may be better suited for a dog, while a cat may be the best choice for a child that would rather cuddle with a pet than wrestle with it. Fish are a good choice for almost any child, as they require the least care and are not able to harm a child.
If you do not currently have a pet, your child may fear the new member of your family. Take your children to a shelter to gauge how they will react to a dog or cat. Do not dismiss their fears, listen to them and try to alleviate the fears, before bringing the new pet home. A fear of pets may also be an issue at a friend’s or family member’s home. Model appropriate behavior for your child, talk to her about how to approach a pet, and what not to do with a pet. Take it slowly. Introducing a new pet to fearful children before they have been able to work through their fears can be damaging to the children and the pet.
In the end, listen to your children. It’s easy to turn selecting a family pet in to a fun, family adventure – one that’s sure to be remembered by all for years to come!