Teach your toddler to play nice with the family pet

toddler girl and white dog
Credit: Thinkstock

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV)- Don’t trust your toddler to know how to gently handle the family pet. At 18 months they are still too young to have learnt empathy and the skills involved in being careful with animals. Don’t leave your toddler alone with the dog, no matter how much you trust the animal. Practice being gentle by showing them what gentle feels like.  Then demonstrate it with your pet.  When they do it right praise them so they associate “being gentle” with positive affirmation.

Wondering if your pet is stressed out when your toddler tries to ride him/her?  Or when they can’t resist pulling their tail or ears?  I found a great article that pet parents may find helpful in easing through this stage.  While the number one priority is to protect your child, as a parent of a toddler you probably already know you have to run some interference to keep your pet safe too!  Use common sense, lots of practice, good modeling and stay consistent.  They’ll eventually catch on.

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