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Teach Your Child How to Interact With Pets

Children will likely encounter pets whether or not they have them in their own home. Teach your children how to approach animals and set rules for your children to follow when they are around a pet:

  • Do not chase pets.
  • Do not tease pets.
  • Do not bother pets while they eat, sleep, or are with their babies.
  • Always keep your face away from a pet's mouth, beak, or claws.
  • Wash your hands after touching pets or pet items.
  • Do not approach unknown dogs. Ask permission from the owner, if present, before petting the dog. Let the dog smell your hand before you pet it.

Also, teach children how to react if they are confronted with an aggressive pet. The following apply specifically to dogs, but some concepts can apply to other household pets:

  • Never scream and run. Stand still, with your hands at your sides. Avoid looking directly into the animal's eyes.
  • Keep avoiding eye contact, and slowly back away after the dog loses interest.
  • If a dog attacks, put an object between you and the animal—a coat, bike, ball, or anything that you happen to have with you.
  • If the dog makes you fall, curl into a ball with your hands over your ears and stay still. Don't scream or roll around.
By Healthwise Staff
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Thomas Emmett Francoeur, MD, MDCM, CSPQ, FRCPC - Pediatrics
Last Revised November 26, 2012

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