Teach Your Toddler to Be Kind to Your Pets

Toddler-and-dogWhen you have a toddler in the house and pets, too, you could have a wonderful companionship on your hands or it could end up a complete disaster. You have to keep both your child and your pet safe and injury free so you can maintain a safe and happy home to raise your little one. You can foster a great loving relationship between your child and pets by following these simple steps.

Lead by example

Begin by teaching your toddler he needs to be gentle with all the pets in your home. Do this by showing them how to properly hold and play around your pets. Don’t let him play rough or pull the animal’s hair or tail. For example, if you have a small dog or a cat, you can hold the dog or cat while you show you little one the proper way to pet them and pick them up.

Teach your toddler that when playing around the animals, they can only be allowed to play with them as long as they know not to pull the animal’s hair, tails or ears. They should definitely be taught to not hit the animal with their hands or with any kind of toy.

Supervise them

Toddler-kissing-dogSupervise your toddler whenever they’re interacting with your pets. Always praise your child when he displays gentle behavior toward the pets. When you toddler is playing around the pets, be sure to be close to keep them from falling on your dog or cat. Never let a toddler be in the room with your pets unattended. Always be in the same room or outdoor area as your child and a dog or cat. Pets can quickly become agitated and strike out at the child.

Teach your toddler the signs that an animal is agitated and doesn’t want to be bothered. Show him that when a dog bares its teeth or growls, the child should back away and not try to play with the pet. This will teach your child to respect the pet’s mood.

Educate them

Introduce children to pet behavior and care by reading stories with them. Stories that show pictures of children playing and being careful with animals are good choices. Simple stories are best for toddlers and younger children and those with both words and pictures are best. Find children’s books showing young children interacting with animals in positive ways.

Avoid watching TV shows and cartoons where children are shown mistreating animals. Even some of the older cartoons like Tom and Jerry can depict bad behavior toward animals. Steer them toward cartoons that teach good behavior and fun where the kids are interacting with animals.

Toddlers and pets, whether a dog, a cat or even a small hamster, can live in the same home peacefully if you start early and always supervise the child and teach them to be gentle and kind to all animals. With the proper guidance, they’ll have a lifetime filled with enrichment from animals.


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  1. Wonderful tips to teach to the kiddos!

    We are currently teaching our 3 year old that not all family and friends with animals will have the same personality as the ones in our household. So far it has been a continuous lesson for they are not all seen on a daily basis.

    But on a positive note, with all the guidance she has no fear of any animal, but does walk cautiously around those animals she does not know.

  2. Great tips! Our next door neighbor's kids are SO afraid of dogs-including our super sweet pup. It is hard to have them over because they are so scared. All kids should learn proper pet etiquette-this could help to overcome any fears they may have at an early age and make them less anxious to be around family pets.