Is it safe to have pets with young children?

Are pets safe to have with young children? And if so, which pets are okay... and which should you steer clear of?

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17  Answers

111 36

I think all pets are OK as long as you take the proper supervision.

Dogs can easily knock over a child whose balance is not perfect yet and even the most loveable dog can only take so much hair pulling. Watching your child with the family pet is important so they can maintain a good relationship. Your dog won't want to be with the child if your child is constantly hitting and pulling his hair. So it is important to teach your child proper behavior.

Cats are a little harder and we all know how cats rule the house. It is very important to teach your child to be gentle with your cat as they do not have the tolerance a dog has and while swipe their claws at the child when upset.

For all reptiles and birds make sure their hands are washed immediately after playing with the animal as they can carry salmonella.

5 2

I concur with Leandra - the secret lies in the time you spent educating the child and respecting the animal. The child has to learn that no hair pulling, tail pulling or hitting is allowed. Your animal has to know that you are also there for him. I am always baffled when people expect an animal to be 100% perfectly behaved. The SPCA is full of dogs that are "unsafe" with children. Most of those are dogs that were simply not listened to when they gave the clear signals that they could not cope with the child's behavior and they pay for that with their life. A few practical tips: NEVER leave a child alone with a pet, NEVER. Learn about the animal's body language so you can act before a problem arrives; e.g a wagging tail in dog is happy (most of the time) but in a cat it is the prelude to a full fledged attack. Make sure all interaction is positive, letting the child give treats or brush is a great way of doing that. Give your animal a spot that is child free where he can retreat to when he wants. I taught my girl that when the cat walks away it means bye bye and that he wants to be alone. Twice she would not listen to me and he swatted her: she never did it again. (He has his nails clipped weekly to make sure there are no real scratches). My 16 year old cat who hated children now lies in front of my year old boy who plants his face in his fur and rubs him and he even lets my girl give him her smothering hugs. Every time I have taught someone about the body language of the animal, the relationship changes instantly, probably because the animal is relieved the human finally 'responds"!

5 2

If you want to see dog language inaction, watch the dog that bit the Denver news anchor. To am untrained eye, it appears unprovoked. Yet he was given non stop warning signals. If you work with/own animals you owe it to yourself to learn about their subtle signals. Learn to listen to the whispers so they don't have to shout - which could translate into a devastating bite with dogs. The anchor in question received 70 stitches on her lip and the dog was restraint in his bite: he could have savaged her. If your dog is growling when kids pounce on him, he is telling you he is not happy about it: listen to him before he maybe, one day, bites.

21 12

We have 2 kids ages 6 yrs and 3 yrs. We also have 2 Boxers. I couldn't ask for more loving dogs for my kids. The dogs take some MAJOR abuse from my children and they never bite/snap/hurt them in any way. My male boxer growls a little, but he won't hurt them. I would definitely recommend Boxers for families with children of all ages.

6 1

I own a pitbull. I went to great lengths to have a well behaved and balanced dog, my son came after my dog. It was a transition but my dog got very used to our son, they are now the very best of friends. We found that we also had to put as much effort into our son on how to treat our family dog along with other animals he came in contact with.
I think all pets are safe if trained properly, however the same patience and responsibilty needs to be taken with kids as to how they are around pets and others pets.
Our dog still knocks our son over or whacks him with his tail, my son has just gotten used to it or tells our dog to go lie down.

13 17

Like everyone says watching your child around the pet. My kids love our two dogs. In fact we had our chihauhau before our children. Then our second dog more dumped on us by my bnl is a big husky/ germanshephard mix. He arrived just before my second. He does knock my kids over sometimes. But having a pet also teaches your kids responisbility. Each of my boys first chore is to each feed the dogs. It helped my boys from playing with the dog food. Well my youngest still wants too but fewer occurancies. My youngest started at 15 months, food only of course. And I have to sometimes stop him cause he likes to feed the dog all the time. But once your child can walk while holding an object then give them their first chore they will likely be more than happy to help and it only cause a little mess.

11 18

I agree with the general consensus. Education, for both the children and the pet. We have two cats. Our first cat joined us when we had one daughter who was about 8 months old. Myffy loved her and although the cat would scratch us, she never clawed at Myffy regardless of what she was doing to her and quickly learnt that if she went near our daughter she was gonna get her hair pulled so she stayed clear when she didn't want to. Our second cat joined us just after we had our second daughter and Ailidh and our second cat couldn't be closer friends. They cuddle each other and play together and only once have we had a scratching incident when Ailidh thought it would be fun to trap the cat in a bucket. But the cats have also learnt that their room is a no go zone, and that they are to play nice with the children just as the kids now know to play nice with the cats. =)

49 27

i have a small dog and my little one 6 is months now. the dog is just in love with her, she smiles when our dog comes in the room and likes to pet the dog. when our little one pets the dog i say do nices pets and rub her hand with mime on the dog. when she trys to pull at the dog i say no no do nice hands and have her rub the dog nice. so far so good and shes been petting the dog nice.

133 8

any pet can be fine around children but they also can be bad. i mean a cat can lay on your child and suffocate them or they can just curl up next to them. dogs can bite them or trample on them or they can be very protective. if i was you i would spend time with ppl who have pets so you can see what kind of pet would be best for your children.

0 0

Of course you can have pets around children.. "/

20 2

Any pets so long as you watch them. We have a cat and an old dog and our son grew up alongside a German shepherd/lab cross who was immediately protective of him. Even though the dog moved with her owner, whenever she comes over, she's always so protective and careful of our son and very patient! Pets are great for kids-they teach kids to be patient, caring and can even help to strengthen immune systems and respiratory systems since they are exposed top pet hair. Our cat will tolerate our son (she'll leave if she gets tired of him) and our old dog just ignores him now, lol! And our son has never met a dog he didn't like and only one or two who were nervous of him; he knew how to treat dogs with respect at a very early age. So yay pets!

0 1

Pets are a great responsibility for children, but always monitor your child around pets! One thing to consider is potential allergy problems. We just had to give away our dog that we've had for six years, because our baby is allergic to dogs. It's been heartbreaking, but necessary. That said, I think dogs can be great with kids, but they are still animals and they are not completely predictable. Although any dog can bite and cause damage, bigger dogs can cause more damage than smaller dogs. I'd recommend waiting until the kids are a little bit older before getting a dog. The dog will feel safer with kids that are a bit older, say four years old and up, and by then you will hopefully know whether or not your kids are allergic to the pet.

24 15

We have 2 Labradors who we got prior to children and they love my boys (5 & 3) and would never hurt them unless the boys did something mean to them. Therefore I've educated my boys on how to treat and respect them (i.e. don't pull or stand on their tails, don't try to ride them and don't try to take their food.) When my dogs are feeling threatened (when the boys are running around and being super loud) they get up and go to another room. There have been allergies studies done that show having animals in the house with young children helps fight against allergies.

963 14

Everyone who said know your pet, know your child, and supoervise both when together was absolutley right.
We had a ferret when our first child was born. Over the last seven years we've had another ferret, two goldfish, and two guinea pigs. We've also had a second child. As most of our pets are rescue animals that were not properly cared for before we got them or the shelter was told "We just can't take care of it anymore," when it was really diseased, we only have one fish and the second guinea pig now. My older daughter is saving up for a corn snake and my toddler would really like a cat.
If you know what you're doing any animal can be safe with any child. If not, none will.

581 24

pets are ok if you keep an eye at them and the children at all time. Pets are animals, so they cannot reason. They can esaily attack anybody if feelign threatened.

11 27

I think having pets around children of all ages is great. Case in point, I love animals and have had a dog and/or cat since before I had my first child, who is now 8. My 1 year old daughter is completely at ease around all animals of all sizes and she is becoming very good at handling them, though I don't leave her or my 2 year old unsupervised near them. My nephew is 8 and has never had an animal as my sister lives in an apartment complex that does not allow pets and he is terrified of my yorkie. I have an 80lb pit bull and a 3lb yorkie, so I have all of the bases covered, and, believe it or not, I would rather have a large dog than a small, they are so much more tolerant of a little pulling and pushing from the child because they don't feel threatened since the child is so much smaller than they are. The yorkie has nipped at my children once or twice, but generally you will find out that all smaller dogs are less tolerant since the child is bigger, therefore more threatening. Having animals around children from a young age also helps prevent allergies to animals later in life since the child is exposed to all the germies and dander, etc. from a young age, builds up the immune system and all.

0 1

Sadly, we found out that our six month old is allergic to our dog. So, while being around the pet may help with allergies, it may also be that you risk having to find another home for the pet if your child is allergic. I agree with your comment about smaller dogs being less tolerant of the kids. My parents yorkies have yipped at the kids when they feel threatened.

16 31

I've gone through this in my head several times when I was pregnant w my twins. We originally had ferrets. They were caged but I heard nothing but bad things about ferrets and children. Anything from the ammonia from their urine can mess w their lungs to ferrets biting the children after they ate due to the milk on their lips so we got rid of them before they were born. We have a cat and needless to say she's scared to death of the babies, always has been. But there are rather friendly kitties who will sleep w children in their cribs. The only issue is if the cat gets comfortable and a newborn doesn't have the muscle strength to roll over if they can't breath. Not only that, but if the cat lays up against the child's nose/mouth the child will inhale all kinds of cat dander and hair and it can collect in their lungs/throat and cause breathing issues. I haven't been exposed to dogs and small children, nor birds, reptiles, etc. We had a fish tank but we took it down after we moved so that they wouldn't grab onto the stand and pull it onto themselves, especially when they started to pull themselves up to go for a walk. I'd say just be alert, if you notice anything out of the ordinary to take them to the pediatrician right away, don't hesitate. Trust your gut. If something isn't working out find a good home for the animal/s or if you think it may be a bad idea in general just don't adopt/buy a pet until you feel the child could handle it.

3 10

We recently adopted a dog, and we have a 2 year old boy at home. Sure puppies are cuter, but the dog we chose is nine years old. We went for an older dog, so that a)we wouldn't be 'training' both dog and boy at the same time and b) the dog is a little less hyper and more tolerant of the inevitable toddler antics. We also have two cats that we had before Jackson was born, but they mostly ignore him.

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4 6

Personally I think any kind of pet is okay as long as it is people/child friendly. The only issue I can think of comes with allergies or dogs and size. Large breed dogs around toddlers, unless they can be micromanaged or are older, can knock the child over without intending to. This is especially true for oversized pups that still have all the energy and hyperactivity of the puppy but the size of a full grown dog. I grew up around dogs, cats, rats, gerbils, ferrets, birds, and fish. I was enthralled for hours at a time watching the fish swim around in the tank.


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