Kids and Pets

I originally wrote this blog for my sister, Valerie, who runs Best Fit Pet Sit, a great petsitting business in Gwinnett County.  I highly recommend subscribing to her blog if you have pets – she posts some really great, informative articles.  Here’s the one I wrote for her regarding pets and kids living together.

Incorporating kids and pets into the same family can be more of a challenge than you may think if you’ve never tried it yourself.  It’s very common for the most avid animal lovers to grow tired of their pets after a baby is born.  Babies require constant touching and holding, and mothers may experience the feeling of being “touched out.”  Babies and toddlers require so much attention and love that moms often feel they have nothing left for anyone else, including once-beloved pets.  A lot of previously adored pets find themselves in shelters after the baby comes along.

Instead of getting rid of your pets, try to decrease the amount of time and attention they require or hire a professional dog walker or pet sitter to pay attention to your pets when you don’t have the time.  When my kids were very small, the dogs had to spend more time outside.  Eventually, the most physically needy phases passed, and I was able to enjoy my pets again.  If you once loved animals but feel that they’re just a nuisance since the kids were born, just know that this is a common feeling and it will pass as the kids grow more independent.  Pets can add a great deal to a child’s life: love, responsibility, lessons about loyalty and commitment.  If you hang in there with your pet through the hard times when the kids are little, when they’re older they will better understand that you don’t give up on someone just because it gets difficult.  We can begin to change society’s throw-away views of pets one child at a time.

If you already have kids and want to add pets, think hard about what kind you want.  Puppies and kids seem to go together like peanut butter and chocolate, but puppies require a great deal of time and training.  They take longer to housebreak than adult dogs, and they love to chew on things.  They don’t understand that kids’ toys (or fingers!) are not acceptable chew toys.  If you’ve never had a puppy before, it’s a better idea to go through a rescue group and adopt an adult dog who has been tested with children.  Look into various breeds to determine how they typically behave.  Small dogs tend to be popular, but often larger breeds are better family dogs.  Then make sure to evaluate the individual dog’s temperament.  Some rescue groups allow a trial period, so you can bring the dog home for a week or two to determine if it’s a good fit before committing.

When it comes to pets and kids, our children’s safety always comes first.  Always supervise children and pets, for the protection of both.  If you have a pet with behavioral problems, seek help from a professional.

Baby Steps offers natural and prepared childbirth classes, breastfeeding classes and support, and doula services in the metro Atlanta area.  Current locations include East Point, Douglasville, Marietta, Kennesaw, Buckhead, Sandy Springs, Lawrenceville, and Decatur.  If these locations are not convenient for you we also offer private, in-home classes on your schedule.  Contact us for more information.  babysteps@babystepsonline.net