When Harry Meets Baby

5 kid-safe, fido-friendly tips
for introducing grandkids to grand pets

By Dr. Robin Ganzert

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The grandkids are coming! You’ve baked the cookies, child-proofed the house, brought out the toys, and gotten the good night’s sleep you need to keep up with your most welcome visitors. But there is another important loved one to fit into the mix: your pet.

Interacting with a dog, cat, hamster, horse, or other critter can be a rewarding experience for children of all ages — from babies to teens. But to ensure the comfort and safety of both child and pet, certain precautions need to be taken.

Here are a few tips from the American Humane Association (AHA) for ensuring visits go well for both your two-legged bundles of energy and your four-legged constant companions:

1. Learn to read and heed your pet’s body language — and teach your grandkids how, too. For example:

When a dog’s eyes are wide with whites showing and gaze is averted, head low and ears flat back, body tense and tail tucked, he is likely afraid. Give him space, and don’t push him. When a dog’s eyes are alert and soft, ears forward, front legs stretched out and rear raised, he is likely in the mood for play.

When a cat’s eyes are staring, ears turned to the side or back, head up, body tense, and tail flipping or flopping, she is saying, “Leave me alone.” When a cat’s eyes are soft and blinking, ears and head relaxed, and tail up, she’s saying, “I’m doing fine. Come on over and pet me!”

2. Make sure your pet has somewhere quiet, away from the action, to rest.

3. Have the parent or your spouse carry the baby or toddler into the house in his or her arms (not in a car seat) while you stay with your pet.

4. Teach your grandchild to approach your pet slowly and gently and to reach out from underneath. A hand that comes down from up high may seem aggressive to your pet.

5. Never leave a baby or child unattended with any animal, no matter how much you trust your pet.

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For more information, download AHA’s free booklet,  Pet Meets Baby.

 

Robin-Ganzert

 

 

Robin Ganzert is the president of American Humane Association, the country’s first humanitarian organization and the only one dedicated to protecting both children and animals.

 

 

 

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