Pets can make great companions for kids. My daughter has had her dog since she was three years old, She has been a welcome addition to the family. My daughter gives her the respect she deserves. I am impressed with the way she helps care for her. and we have never had a problem. However, many people do run into problems with their children’s pets. This can often end in disaster, most often for the pet and occasionally for the child. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you are planning on getting a pet for your child.

You should know the history of the pet you select for your child. Some pets have been subjected to improper handling and even cruelty by children in their previous homes. This can lead to an aggression towards all children. Such pets often make great pets for adult only homes, but are not suitable for children.

If you are planning to get a pet for your child, you should also be planning on being the one responsible for the pets needs. Most children aren't responsible or mature enough to handle the demands of caring for an animal. You should never get a pet to teach your child responsibility. Animals are living beings, not teaching tools. If you aren't ready to accept all the responsibilities yourself, such as feeding grooming, walking, etc. then do not get a pet for your child.

Bear in mind that you must teach your children proper handling of pets. Children under 4 should never be left unattended with any pet. A small child has the ability to seriously injure or even kill a small dog or cat simply by squeezing too hard.

Also bear in mind that any animal will defend itself if harmed by a child. If your child were to pull a cats tail for example, odds are, he/ she would be scratched. If they were to hurt a dog, they would most likely be bitten, even possibly seriously injured. Many people will punish an animal for this behavior, or even have the animal euthanized. I personally know people that have done things like this. Some parents seem to have the idea that because the child is a human and the dog/cat is animal, then the dog or cat should respect the child and take any abuse without retaliation. This is absurd. A dog's mind is similar to that of a small child. Instinctively, it is going to defend itself if attacked. Think how you would feel if someone walked up to you and pulled your ears or your hair. In the case of choking, if the dog or cat doesn't defend itself by biting or scratching, it may well be killed. I also unfortunately know someone this happened to. Their Chihuahua was choked to death by a 2 year old child. It is not up to the child or the pet to make sure things like this don't happen, it is your responsibility to make sure things like this don't happen. Also be cautious of your child's friends. If you don't know how your pet will react to the child or the child will react to the pet, they should be kept separate.

And last but not least, please make sure you spay or neuter your pet. Some parents want their child to experience "the miracle of birth". This can be better accomplished by renting a video. There are so many animals euthanized in shelters everyday, having a litter just to demonstrate this is ridiculous. It is much better to teach your child to be responsible by setting an example and having your pet spayed or neutered.

Marian and Cleo

Relevant Links

How to Bite Proof Your Child
Kids and Dogs, A Common Sense Approach
Dogs and Children
Kids and Dogs-Safety First
Damn Dog