10 Things to Teach Your Children About a New Pet

More on PawNation: family pets, kids and pets, kittens, Pet Net, PetNet, puppies

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If you're a parent, you've probably heard pleas from your kids to get a family pet. And while bringing a new animal into the family can be rewarding, fun and exciting, there can be a steep learning curve when the pet first arrives.

We recently talked to three experts on the subject -- an animal welfare scientist, an animal behaviorist and a marriage and family therapist -- for their top tips on adding a new pet to the family. Here is their advice for making kids, parents and pets feel safe, comfortable and happy.

What To Teach Your Children

1. Be gentle and calm. Before the pet arrives, practice greeting the pet gently and calmly with your children. So many kids shriek and scream with excitement as they run up to dogs or cats, but children should be taught not to run up to any animal, either their own pet or one in public, ays Mary Burch, director of the Canine Good Citizen & AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy and Paw Nation advice columnist. Burch says. "When they approach, it should be in a calm manner, talking to the pet in a nice voice. Children can be taught to call a puppy or kitten to come to them and, with supervision, can give a puppy a treat for coming when called," she says.

2. Understand that the dog or cat isn't a toy. Although they may be soft and furry like a favorite stuffed animal, it's important that your child understand that the pet needs to be treated like a real member of the family. Susan Stiffelman, therapist, advice columnist at ParentDish and author of "Parenting Without Power Struggles: Raising Joyful, Resilient Kids While Staying Cool, Calm and Connected," suggests sitting down with your child and practicing how to best pet and interact with the new addition on a stuffed animal, reminding them that the real pet will be much different than a toy. Children should always softly pet the puppy or kitten with no pulling or tugging allowed.

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