Start Training When Pets Are Young
Ideally, puppies and kittens should have supervised exposure to children, as this interaction will help form a foundation for living with children later on. For pets adopted at an older age, this may not be possible. But in all cases, get pets comfortable with having their ears, fur, and paws pulled by starting to do this gently, and rewarding them for allowing you to do so. Over time, gradually increase the intensity to imitate what a toddler may do.
Train Your Dog Early
Basic commands, such as “come,” “sit,” and “stay,” become even more important when children are around; all dogs should know them. An “over there” or “go to your place” command can also be invaluable. Training dogs to avoid unnecessary barking, and teaching them simple manners, such as not jumping on visitors, not begging for food, and not jumping on the furniture, will also come in handy.
Supervise Pets and Kids Constantly
Never leave pets and kids unsupervised. Most animal bites involving children occur when the child initiates an interaction while a pet is resting or eating. Eliminating free feeding, and setting a feeding schedule to coincide with a child’s meal times, will help avoid interaction while eating.
Make Decisions About Pet Restrictions
Parents need to decide whether pets will have access to the nursery or a child’s room, and should add a baby gate or a closing door to rooms that are off-limits. If a pet will be allowed into the nursery, initiate supervised trips to allow the pet to investigate and become accustomed to the furniture before the baby arrives. Appropriate calm behavior should be rewarded.