When your baby was, well, a baby, he barely knew that the dog even existed. Now that he’s a toddler, though, he scrambles after the poor pup, pulling on his tail and giving the dog the typical toddler treatment. But just because your toddler and your pet aren’t exactly getting along now doesn’t mean that they won’t be best buds in the future, says Dr. Brittney Barton, a Dallas-based veterinarian and mother of a toddler and pets, too. Here are her tips on how to create harmony between your toddler and your pet.
Understand That Your Pet Is Like A Toddler, Too
From their playful nature to their sometimes naughty tricks, your pet is sometimes like a toddler, too. After all, they need the same amount of guidance and support to grow into well-adjusted members of the family. And that’s where proper training and consistency can help. It not only gives your pet some self-esteem (which they need!), but it also allows them to understand the clear expectations of how they are to act.
Give Both Of Them Space
Just like your toddler needs space and a sense of individuality from time to time, so does your pet. Whether you have a dog or a cat (or both), they deserve to have a private place they can go to be alone and quiet. That’s why you should designate a “hands off” special place for your pet, which can be a crate or a bed. Help your toddler understand that when the pet is in their special place, they are to be left alone and quiet. We all need a break sometimes; just remember that your pet does, too!
Observe Their Interactions
Keep your eyes open when your child and pet are playing. When your pet and your toddler are together, give consistent guidance and instruction on how to properly interact with each other. If you allow your toddler to be rough around your pet, they can develop improper behavioral responses that are inadvertently reinforced by your child. Allowing your toddler to incite play with your pet using their mouth will teach the pet that this is not only okay, but actually desired. And in turn, your child could end up injured and it could eventually lead to problematic pet behavior. The solution: Designate supervised play time and model appropriate behavior to your child. And if either you or your pet get overly excited, you can separate them until everyone has had a chance to calm down.
It’s understandable that you want to create harmony between your toddler and your pet. By rewarding positive behavior (from both your child and your furry one), you’ll help them build a bond that will allow them to become best buds. And that’s something to definitely bark about.