How Your Nanny Can Introduce Kids to Unfamiliar Pets
Updated: May 24
Pets can be great friends. So, it’s little wonder that 67% of American households own a pet. That’s 84.9 million homes according to the 2019-2020 APPA National Pet Owners Survey.
This means that even if you might not have a pet, you may come into contact with a lot of pets. And so would your kid. When children interact with pets, there can be so many benefits. They learn to be more empathetic and to treat people kindly.
PetButler.com tells us that
“… non-verbal communication between a child and a pet can contribute to increased self-esteem.”
Also, the process of taking care of pets can help teach responsibility.
Now we know that pets can be good for kids. However, things can go sour when your child has a bad incident with a pet, especially if it’s an unfamiliar one. This may occur when you’re not around, like in public places, or when they’re in the care of a nanny.
So what can you or your kid’s nanny do in this situation? Here’s what.
7 RULES TO FOLLOW WHEN INTRODUCING YOUR CHILD TO UNFAMILIAR PETS
Whenever kids come in contact with unfamiliar pets, there are certain guidelines to follow. They are:
1. DON’T ASSUME ALL PETS ARE FRIENDLY
Even the fluffiest poodle can be dangerous if it’s nervous or startled. A child’s first instinct might be to rush to the pet and give it a hug – it’s ours too. But some pets don’t like that and may lash out. Instead, your nanny should let your kid socialize with the pet from a comfortable and safe distance, until she’s sure it’s friendly.
2. SEEK THE OWNER’S PERMISSION
This is also a good way to teach your child how to be polite with other people. When your kids see a grownup politely asking permission, they’ll be sure to imbibe such good manners
Kindercare.com supports the fact that it is important to talk with the owner first since they can tell you if a pet is friendly with strangers, and what their pet may like or won’t like.
3. TRY TO KEEP THEM CALM
If a pet is leashed, make sure the owner has a firm grip on the leash before letting your kid come close. Make sure your child is calm, relaxed, and uses slow movements. They should talk to the pet in a cool, soothing voice. It is also better to approach pets from the side, instead of reaching to pet them head-on.
If your kid is shy or is uncomfortable around the pet, it’s fine. Withdraw calmly and don’t let them run. Sudden movements might be seen as an attack and the pet may retaliate.
4. READ THE SIGNS
When introducing your child to unfamiliar pets, it’s important to read the body language of the pet. If it seems like they aren’t particularly enthusiastic about your kid touching them, or are backing away… intervene and stop the interaction.
5. PLACE TREATS ON FLAT PALMS
If your kid decides to feed a pet, be sure that the treat is not held up with their fingers.
Place it on their flat palms. Sometimes pets may find it difficult to differentiate between a treat and fingers.
If the pet is already with its own treat or toy, don’t take it away. They can be really territorial about their property.
6. ALWAYS SUPERVISE THE KIDS
This is imperative. Leaving a child to play with an unfamiliar pet may seem harmless, but it’s important to supervise them. Children are easily excitable and are very fragile – especially toddlers. So, to avoid any biting, scratching, or show of aggression, they should always be supervised when they’re with pets.
There you are! A guide on how your nanny – and you – can successfully introduce your kid to an unfamiliar pet. With these at your fingertips, you can watch your child safely interact with pets – unfamiliar or not.
And if you’re looking for nannies who you’re sure would take good care of your kids while keeping all these guidelines and more in mind, then our nanny agency is just for you. Please, feel free to contact us. Choose your kid’s safety. Choose us.
1. “Pet Industry Market Size & Ownership Statistics”, Americanpetproducts.org.
2. “Kids and Pet Safety: Teaching Kids How to Interact with Pets” Petbutler.com.
3. “Good Dog, Good Kid: Teaching your Child Pet Safety”, Kindercare.com. February 2015.