How to introduce a new pet to your grandchildren

How to introduce a new pet to your grandchildren

Your family dog or cat can teach your grandkids so much. Here’s how to make sure their friendship has the best possible start.

Your family dog or cat can teach your grandkids so much. Here’s how to make sure their friendship has the best possible start.

As well as all the benefits that having a pet brings to you, visiting and caring for a dog or cat can be a brilliant experience for your grandkids, too. From teaching children about empathy and responsibility, to keeping them active and helping them de-stress – pets have so much to give.

So it’s important to plan their very first meeting carefully. Here’s what to consider when you want to encourage your grandkids to build a bond with your pet and a love of animals that will last a lifetime.

Things to consider beforehand

Are they kid friendly? If you’re adopting a dog or cat from a rescue centre, ideally look for one with a kid-friendly track record. Some animals may have had bad experiences with children – or have simply never been around them – so they may find it harder to trust them. For more tips, check out our questions you should ask yourself before getting a new pet.

Talk to your child: Discuss your plans with your son or daughter first to make sure they’re comfortable with introducing your new pet to their children. They may have some good ideas about what will work best, and can let you know if they have allergies.

Make sure they’re healthy: Take your pet to the vet to make sure their vaccinations are up-to-date and that they are free from parasites and infections that could be dangerous to young children.

Keep things clean: Make sure your grandkids don’t pick up any germs your pet may have brought in from indoors by using a product like Flash Anti-bac Plus Cleaning Spray, which kills 99.99% of bacteria, on your surfaces.

Read your pet: Animals can tell you a lot about how they’re feeling through their body language – for instance, a dog’s ears may flatten and point backwards when they are scared. Observe and learn to read your dog or cat’s signals before you introduce them to little ones.

Meeting for the first time

Set the ground rules: Tell them how important it is to be gentle and calm around your new pet. Explain that your dog or cat may be scared, nervous or excited, and that being kind and quiet will help the animal feel more relaxed. Also, dogs and cats are not toys, and won’t react well to having their tails or whiskers pulled, being poked, chased or squeezed, so make sure they understand this.

Consider a lead: If your dog is particularly bouncy or large, it’s a good idea to put it on a lead for the first meeting. That way, you can regain control quickly if your pet lurches or gets over-excited.

Take it slow: Keep things calm by introducing just one child at a time to your pet. Make sure there are two adults in the room – one to focus on the animal, and one to watch the child. Never leave a child under 10 alone in a room with a dog or a new cat, no matter how gentle the animal seems.

Put the pet in charge: Having a small person suddenly lunge towards them at face-level can be scary for your pet, so sit your grandchild down and let the dog or cat approach them instead. Tell them to put one hand out in front of them, making it look like a paw – a loose fist with their fingers facing downwards. This will show your pet they want to make friends. If the animal doesn’t approach, tell your grandchild not to worry – they’re just not ready yet.

Lead by example: Show your grandchild how to stroke your dog or cat correctly. Avoid sensitive areas such as the tail, feet, stomach and ears, and instead stroke under their chin or along their back.

Getting to know each other

Go for a walk together: As well as being good exercise, walks can be a great chance for your dog to bond with your grandchildren in a relaxed setting.

Get them involved: Buy a smaller-sized brush so they can help you groom your pet; ask them to help you feed them, although bear in mind dry pet food is easier for little hands to cope with than tinned food; and make sure you get them involved with doggy bath time – they’ll love the wet and wild chaos that can ensue!

Teach them tricks: Enroll your dog in dog training classes, so they can learn how to sit, lie down and come to you on command. Teach these tricks to your grandchild, and practice them together with your dog. They’ll love it!

How did it go when you introduced your pet to your grandkids? We’d love to hear your tips in the comments section below.

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