Most pets are a part of the family. They live in your home, play in your yard and love your children. However, pets can be unpredictable. You never know how a cat or dog may act if they’re under distress or panic.

As the parent, you can protect your children and your furry friend by teaching your child how to act around animals, especially what not to do when your pet seems stressed.

Five tips to keep kids and pets safe

There are some simple ways to prevent any future issues between your furry friend and your children, including:

  1. Don’t invade a pet’s personal space – Whether it’s your dog or someone else’s cat, your child should know to respect an animal’s space. Explain to them that animals are like people because they don’t want anyone to be in their personal area, so only interact with a pet if they come to you first.
  2. Let your pet eat in peace – Most animals value their meals, so if a child tries to touch their food, the animal may take it as a sign of aggression. Let your kids know that when the family pet is eating, we let them eat in peace. They could always play after the pet finishes their meal.
  3. Enjoy playtime like you’re with your friends – Most kids understand that they should never steal a toy or hit a friend during playtime. Parents should tell their children that it’s the same with the dog. Don’t take a toy or roughly play with a dog because they may make a mistake.
  4. Beware of loud noises – Most animals are sensitive to loud noises. We see it during fireworks and when dogs hear other animals, so children should avoid yelling at their pets. Instead, tell your child that pets have sensitive ears. It helps children use their indoor voices plus keeps your dog calm.
  5. Remember, a pet is not a toy – the most critical aspect is to teach kids that a pet is not a toy. They are living creatures with thoughts and feelings. We can’t force cats to hug or dogs to dance. We need to be gentle and recognize the signs of stress in our pets.

Teaching your child about pet safety will reduce the risks of a severe bite or incident. However, it won’t guarantee your pet, or someone else’s, won’t hurt your child in the future. In Pennsylvania, anyone who is bitten should seek medical attention first and learn more about dog bite laws through a legal expert.