National Kids and Pets Day: April 26

This Sunday, April 28, marks the 10th anniversary of National Kids and Pets Day, an event created by Colleen Paige, a family lifestyle expert, mother, and besotted pet lover.

Her goal is to further the magical bond between children and animals, to help bring awareness to the plight of pets in shelters awaiting new homes, and educating the public about safety between children and pets.

“The future of our children and their ability to show compassion toward animals and each other depends on us to give them the skills necessary to make the world a better, kinder place to live,” Paige said.

There is nothing more rewarding than bringing up children in a household with pets. Firstly, they learn never to be afraid of them! It’s never too soon to start nurturing bonds between household pets and children.

It’s almost instinctive for your children to reach out and pull on a dog’s or cat’s tail. This can be combated from the moment a child becomes a mobile toddler by teaching them by example and introducing the “Don’t do this, but do that” rule. In other words, demonstrating how to pet a dog or a cat and asking them to copycat the motion.

“Don’t pull Jojo by the tail, but pet her like this. She will love it…” Then it’s a good idea to follow up with praise for the child and let them know that the pet is equally pleased by this hands-on attention by either purring, or in the case of a dog, some gentle tail wagging.

Here are five simple rules to nurturing a loving relationship between pet and children. Children need to learn that:

  • A cat or a dog is not a toy.
  • How to read their pet’s body language that indicates annoyance, anger or fear.
  • How to recognize that the cat or dog has had enough and wants to be left alone.
  • Never hold a pet against its will or corner and trap them.
  • Never bother a cat or dog when it’s sleeping, eating or going to the bathroom.

It’s also a good idea to involve young children in their pet’s daily routine as this teaches the responsibilities of pet ownership. Simple tasks that small children will enjoy include seeing that water bowls are always full and reporting back to their parents. When they are about 7 years old, they will be ready to take on the job of keeping them topped off, too.

Other dog-related chores such as how to put a measured amount of food in the dog bowl and keeping the eating area clean can follow.

Small children may also enjoy getting involved with the dog’s grooming routine. It’s a good idea to keep all the grooming tools in a carrier and teach kids about the different grooming brushes and combs. They can be given the task of handing the tools to an adult and later taught how to brush gently once the proper grooming has been completed.

All interaction between children and household pets should be strictly supervised at all times. And, when they are old enough to have mastered basic responsibilities as outlined above, taking the dog for a walk (under adult supervision of course) can be a promised task that will be something they will look forward to doing.

How are you planning to celebrate on Sunday?

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