Some Ideas of Pet Safety Tips for Kids

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Hello, Friends! If this is your first time landing here, we probably haven’t met yet. And knowing who I am is important in the context of this post. (BTW, I’d also love to get to know you if you’d like to introduce yourself and your family in the comments!)

I’m Maggie, mother of Violet, 5; Astrid, 3; Cooper, a 12-year-old pit mix; Newt, my 10-year-old black cat; and Ripley, a 5-year-old tortoiseshell. We also have a small Aquarium with fish, but they don’t get much airtime.

I write about pets, children and the planet – and often the intersection of these things – for a living. And in my role as a writer and in my interactions with other mothers, I am constantly asked: how can I prevent my children from tormenting My pets and vice versa?

These questions really boil down to the most important question for parents who also share their home with animals: how do I protect my children and my pets from each other and from each other?


Obviously, you are not the moron who lets your children climb on your pets or grab their lips or pull their ears or tear their tails. Obviously. (But if that’s you, don’t be that guy anymore. Seriously. Stop today.)

Children must first know how to handle animals safely. Even people who don’t have pets at home should teach children to be safe around dogs and cats, because animals are everywhere!

Some general rules of kindness and safety– do not climb on animals, do not grab the tail and ears, do not grab the collars, do not touch an unfamiliar animal without permission, etc. – are basics that all children should know. Your job is to teach your children the rules of pet safety and model good behavior.

For families with pets at home, it is unfair to expect their pets to know what they do and don’t do with their children, especially if they have a dog or cat that feels uncomfortable around children. As a human being and a parent, you have to take on this responsibility. So here are three tips on pet safety for children that you can start implementing today!


Start when your children are small and teach them to observe the behavior of their pets and the meaning of these behaviors. Report it if your dog is wagging its tail with excitement or if your cat is wagging its tail with irritation. The more you observe and speak loudly, the more your children will absorb. Keep it neutral but informative.

“I notice that Fluffy’s eyes look very big and that his cock is full of energy. This tells me that she is uncomfortable, so let’s go to the other room to give her space.”

“Fido seemed really happy when I got home from work! I could see it because his tail was wagging quickly and he was turning his body in a circle!”

“I see Tiger hiding behind the library. This is his way of telling you that the playing time is over. Let’s bring some color to the kitchen and give the tiger time to recharge his batteries.”

Quick note on: grunt. A grunt is a warning. A grunt says that I feel uncomfortable, that I am unhappy, that I am in pain. Never correct your dog’s growl. Take it as a warning that this is the matter. Intervene quickly, then teach your child what was happening. Correct your child’s behavior, not the grunt.


This is especially true for cats. Here is our living room configuration: one door has a baby door that opens and closes. It stays open most of the day, unless we have to make room for Cooper for the girls. The second door has a baby flap that is always closed. It has a small cat door in the middle that stays open. This gives Newt and Ripley the opportunity to come or go as they please, regardless of whether the other door is open or not. Likewise, my office has a baby gate that is short enough for you to jump over. My office is your extra “safe” space. There is a scratching post, a bowl of water and a litter box. You can come here to escape the humans – and the dog – whenever you want. We taught Violet and Astrid that the doors are there for security and that they know that they are not allowed to open them to reach a cat.

Cooper has a free hand in the house and can decide where he wants to be – or not-at any time. However, this is a velcro dog. He just wants to be with me. Forever and ever. And since I often have to give Violet and Astrid a hand, he is usually with us. When the girls were very small, I forced a “follow me” sign to be sure that he was never left alone with babies.

Bottom line: Your pets should never feel trapped or stuck in a corner. Give them plenty of opportunities to leave any room. And if they are blocked in some way, or if you have to leave them for security reasons, remove them either behind a door or with a hint “follow me”.

Read more safety tips for dogs who live with babies: dogs and babies: can everyone get along?

And a Version for dogs who live with toddlers, because toddlers … Well … Toddlers can be: dogs and toddlers: a realistic and honest guide to protect them from each other.


You are the grown man. You are the voice of the animals in your house, and you are the voice of reason for the little people in your house.

I’ve seen parents force their pets to put up with being petted by children when they clearly didn’t want to. I have seen parents drag their pets by the collar or pick them up instead of letting them run away. Of course, we would like our pets and our children to get along, but not at the expense of safety and freedom of action.

Do not force your pets to do anything. (I mean in the area of reason and security, of course. If you have to take your dog to another room with the door closed to protect everyone, so be it. I don’t mean that.)

Teach your children the limits of responsible interactions with pets (remember: do not touch an animal that is drinking, eating or chewing on a toy.) and create a sense of responsibility in your children, be kind to animals.

If you want to involve your children in the care of pets in your home, I have a great guide to teach your children to get started with household chores.

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