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Handling with Care: How to Touch Your Pet

By: Lisa Klassen - Updated: 25 Jul 2015 | comments*Discuss
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Who can resist the urge to cuddle up to a lovable,huggable family pet? Beneath the fur, feathers orscales of these creatures is a bone structure far moredelicate than that of a hardy human, though. And thesmaller the pet, the more fragile they are. Sometimeskids hurt the pets they love by accident because theydon't know the right way to treat them. This articlewill teach kids exactly how to handle their pets withcare and in return, kids will be rewarded with thegift of unadulterated animal affection.

Taking It Slow

Kids get excited around pets and when kids areexcited, they tend to move quickly. Unfortunately,this is just what can scare an animal. And when petsare scared, they're not in the right mind frame to beheld. Jumping and running is especially fearful tosmaller animals like birds, cats, rabbits, reptiles,gerbils and hamsters. After all, think of how huge youmust look to them. Moving slowly is an essential partof giving most pets a feeling of safety and security.

Grasping and Grabbing

Be gentle with your pet. This is the best motto forloving an animal and respecting its body that issometimes easily hurt. While older dogs and cats aretougher and can sustain a little roughhousing, youngpets, small animals and delicate birds can't take thesame amount of pressure. Even experienced dogs andcats are often startled if grabbed suddenly frombehind which can provoke them to bite or scratch,leading to unhappy kids and pets alike. Squeezing,grabbing and gripping tightly can be scary and painfulfor pets, so hold animals lightly and stroke themsoftly for the best response.

One of the best ways that parents can aid theirchildren's understanding of the animal mind is to havekids play the role of their pets and parents playtheir child grabbing the pet. Showing the child where theanimal likes to be stroked and what areas are bothersomewith a little tickling or some mild poking canstrongly impress the message onto a young pet ownerand greatly improve the child/pet relationship.

The Pickup

Watch your pet for their response when you pick themup. Some animals, like rabbits, are less comfortablebeing held than others. If pets are struggling whileyou're holding them, even after a month of handlingthem, you may have to simply play with your pet on theground. When picking up dogs, hold one hand undertheir chests and the other hand under the hind legsfor support. Cats should NOT be picked up by the backof the neck and are generally more comfortable withtheir bellies down, not up in the air. When holdinggerbils, hamsters and mice, cup them in your hands andtry not to grip them by their tails as that area isvery sensitive. When handling birds, once again thekey word is gentle as their bodies are the mostfragile of all.

Letting Go Is Hard Sometimes

When you're having fun with your furry playmate, itcan be hard when your pet is suddenly done andplaytime is over without warning. It's tempting tohold on just a little longer. But respecting a pet'sneed to be left alone is one of the best traits ayoung pet owner can develop and is essential for buildingtrust in the kid/pet relationship. Your pet shouldhave nothing but good feelings when it sees you andholding on to a pet after it wants to leave can resultin feelings of fear. Birds in particular get veryuncomfortable if they are held for too long. Too muchpetting, especially in the case of cats, can lead toinstinctive running every time they see a child, whichcauses hurt feelings and frustration, if nothing else.Dogs may start to growl, which is also upsetting.Remember the saying "If you love something, set itfree"? Now is the time to listen to this. Chances are,your pet will be right back into play mode in just alittle while and you can start all over again.

If kids can remember these golden rules of handlingwith care, their pets will supply them with the giftof unselfish love with complete trust. And that's aprecious thing indeed.

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Hi, I have a 3-year-old son. We have an almost 2-year-old dog. We adopted her and she has an amazing temperament. Not a day goes by where our son isn't too rough with the dog. In some ways he's getting better but it's exhausting and frustrating and everything you'd imagine. Here's what we do/try: - teaching him about a dozen times a day how to gently pet with the dog - teaching him how to play with her (ie, tug o war, etc) - explaining and also trying to get him to figure out how his behavior affects her - praise every single time he treats her well - explaining what could happen if he continues to be rough (ie, the dog could bite him (though I don't think she would), the dog would be afraid of him, etc.) It seems like nothing really gets through to him. He's great with other people's dogs, it's just ours. They remind me of siblings. He usually acts out because his feelings are hurt (ie, the dog doesn't want to play with him) or because she just looks really cute (he's like the embodiment of the phrase "you're so cute I want to eat your face"....or something to that equivalent). Any other suggestions? Is this an age thing that will continue to lessen until it just stops? When he was younger he went through this with other kids and eventually grew out of it (along with a ton of interventions on our end). Thank you!
Bridgett - 25-Jul-15 @ 9:14 PM
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