Choosing the right pet for your family…………..
(taken from Canadian Living Magazine)
1. Choose a dog or cat with a personality that is fairly calm and not threatening or defensive, says Dr. Patricia Stapley Chase, owner of Pine Ridge Veterinary Clinic in Cobourg, Ont. “But keep in mind that any dog can be a challenge and any dog can be pushed to his limit.”
2. Large dogs and small dogs generally are not good choices for families with preteen children, says Dr. Betsy Brevitz in her book Hound Health Handbook (Workman, 2004). A child who is considerably smaller than the family dog is likely to have trouble earning the dog’s respect, and a small dog may be intimidated by the rambunctious play of young children.
3. Take a moment to observe the demeanour of the animal. “If you’re choosing a puppy,” says Stapley Chase, “and one is sitting in the corner fairly quiet and the other is barking aggressively at you, which one do you want?”
4. “With dogs, there is always a hierarchy, and the children need to be above that dog,” says Stapley Chase. “Otherwise the dog is always challenging the kids.” Participation in obedience training is an excellent learning opportunity for children 10 years and older. During these classes, the dog learns to respond to people.
Recognize animal warning signs
5. Often accidents occur when a child teases a pet or touches him in a disturbing manner, such as grabbing a cat’s tail or pulling at his legs. This is especially important for young children who may not understand warning signs from a pet.
6. Clearly state these rules: Never disturb a pet when he’s eating, sleeping or chewing on something. Don’t grab the pet’s feet, ears or tail — ever.
7. A cat may be less tolerant of a child’s playful behaviour than a dog. Teach your child how to properly hold the cat, providing support under the chest and back legs. Touching the sensitive stomach area may bother the cat enough to bite, so the child should be aware of this delicate area.
8. Play calmly and with no fast motions toward the animal. If a child plays roughly with a cat, for example, he may attack with his claws; a dog may grab and cause puncture wounds. “Pets don’t know their own limitations,” says Stapley Chase. “Also, an adult may recognize warning signs from a dog, but a child might not know those boundaries.”
9. In the event of a fight between two animals, teach children to never stick their hands or feet between them. “You’re going to get bitten because the animals won’t be able to differentiate between your limb and the one they’re being aggressive toward,” says Stapley Chase.
10. Learning to read an animal’s warning signs will keep your kids safe. For dogs, if their eyes are down, ears are back and tail is between the legs, they may be in a fear position. “Some animals bite when they feel trapped or cornered,” says Stapley Chase. Cats are more vocal with their fear and may hiss, or the hair on their backs stands up and their pupils enlarge.
Showing your child how to love and respect animals will create a more loving bond that will last a lifetime and help build empathy for all living creatures.