How to Introduce Your Kids to a New Pet

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Introducing kids to a new member of the family is nerve-wracking for everyone—parents, children, and pets alike. If you approach the situation with the right outlook, though, it doesn’t have to be a scarring experience. To the contrary, it’s pretty easy to facilitate a first meeting that goes off without a hitch. You just need to be prepared for a few different situations. If you’re considering bringing home a new puppy or kitten sometime in the near future, read up on ways to make their first meeting with kids go smoothly. We’ve compiled a guide of some of the best tips so that you can refer to it.

  • Set the stage. Before you even bring the new dog or cat inside, you need to prepare your kids for what’s about to happen. If they’re older kids, this should be relatively easy: simply explain that this new critter is going to be shy, so they should approach him quietly and nicely. Younger kids, however, will certainly want to grab the first tail they see or tug on any set of furry ears they can get their hands on. Talk to them in a way they understand about how they have to be gentle with the new dog or kitty. Older brothers and sisters will probably remember how gentle they had to be with their new baby sibling; evoke that situation to help explain.
  • Develop some rules. When animals feel threatened, they attack. It’s a law of nature. Skittish animals, in particular, are prone to lashing out. So make sure kids know that some things are off-limits when it comes to the new pet. For instance, they shouldn’t get up in a pet’s face while he’s enjoying his first meal at home. Many dogs will find this threatening, as if someone is trying to steal their much-needed grub. Also make sure your kids know that playing too rough with the new pooch could make him upset, so they can’t tug at him.
  • Start sitting. When the new member of the family first walks into the room, kids should be sitting down. Animals won’t feel as threatened if they see that their new acquaintance isn’t that much larger than them. If it’s a dog you’ve brought home, keep him on a leash and allow him to sniff out the situation while your kids sit as quietly as possible, perhaps extending a hand to stroke him if he seems comfortable. You can let cats meet kids at their own speed. It might take a few days, even, before a really shy cat will introduce himself to your children, but that’s okay. If they’re too excited to wait, hold the kitty while they pet him gently. Don’t turn a trembling kitten over to kids who won’t be able to handle him as carefully.
  • Use bribery as necessary. If you can already tell from your pet’s meek demeanor that he’s not going to be a fan of your kids right off the bat, give them a way to get on his good side. Fill kids’ hands with treats before you bring the new pup or cat inside and let youngsters dispense them liberally.

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