10 Things All Children Should Know Before Handling Pets - Pet Hub USA

10 Things All Children Should Know Before Handling Pets

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Kids love animals and often get excited by the prospect of getting a new puppy or kitten. Others might happily run up to a dog or cat they see while outside. However, there are a few things that kids can do that could become a problem for an animal. Here are ten things to teach your kids before they meet anyone’s pets.

How to Hold Them

selective focus photography of woman hugging gray kitten
Photo by Japheth Mast on Unsplash

Holding a cat or a dog incorrectly can hurt them. It’s important to teach your kids how to safely hold an animal in a way that supports them and reduces the chance of making the pet uncomfortable or causing them to lash out in pain.

Respect Boundaries

white and gray wolf
Photo by Jeroen Bosch on Unsplash

Everyone has boundaries, even pet animals. Make sure your children know to give animals some space and to not overwhelm them with pets and hugs. Dogs, in particular, aren’t particularly enthused by hugs: they see humans getting in their faces as an invasive act.

Some Pets Aren’t Friendly

a cat with its mouth open
Photo by Alex Greenberg on Unsplash

Just because a pet looks cuddly and sweet doesn’t mean that it wants to be your friend. Kids need to know that not every pet is a friendly little ball of joy. They’re living things with their own personalities and desires, and forcing them to interact with you can make them uncomfortable.

Don’t Touch Without Asking

dog, hybrid, mixed breed dog
Photo by Ralphs_Fotos on Pixabay

If your child sees a cute dog or an outside cat and wants to rush up to pet them, they need to be gently coached on asking the owner. Many animals aren’t extroverts and might react negatively to an unfamiliar child rushing up to them. Tell them to always ask the pet’s owner before trying to touch the animal.

Body Language

cat, hiss, angry
Photo by neelam279 on Pixabay

Since animals can’t communicate with us through speech, it’s vital to track their emotional state by watching their body language. Teach your child what different pet body language signals are, such as a cat laying its ears back or a dog baring its teeth. These are sure signs that the animal is upset and a good indication to leave them alone.


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Let Them Come to You

woman in black jacket sitting beside brown dog on rock near body of water during daytime
Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Many pets would prefer to come to you rather than the other way around. Show your kid how to patiently wait for a pet to approach them first before they try to initiate contact. If you let the animal inspect you first, you’ll start your relationship with them on a foundation of trust instead of fear.

How to Introduce Yourself

boy, cat, pet
Photo by Westfale on Pixabay

Cats and dogs can be very sweet and friendly to people they know. To get to that point, though, they need to have an introduction. Explain to your kid how to safely allow the animal to get their scent by carefully approaching them and extending a low, open hand.

Use a Flat Palm to Offer Food

person holding brown wooden stick with white and black short coated dog
Photo by James Lacy on Unsplash

Likewise, an open, flat palm is the best way to offer treats to a pet. Offering them food in a clenched hand is a good way to get accidentally bitten or scratched. Show your child how to safely offer food to an animal using this method.

Read More: The 10 Worst Dogs for Kids 

Never Take Food Away

shallow focus photography of white and brown cat
Photo by Yerlin Matu on Unsplash

Emphasize the importance of never taking food or toys away from an animal. While kids might think it’s funny to get a reaction out of a pet while they’re eating, some animals can become very aggressive over their food. This can lead to tragedy if teasing turns into a serious bite or scratch.

Read More: 10 Tips for Feeding Cats Who Are Finicky Eaters

Stay Close to You

girl in blue t-shirt and blue denim shorts holding leash of white and brown jack
Photo by Robert Eklund on Unsplash

The most important thing to teach your child about pets is that they should never interact with unfamiliar animals without supervision. They need to stay close to you whenever they meet a new pet so you can help coach them through the safest ways to approach the situation. Never leave your child unattended with unfamiliar animals!

Read More: How Pets Bring Us Closer to Nature


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