Fostering a Positive Relationship between Your Toddler and Your Pets

Publication Date: 
Monday, July 14, 2014 - 13:15

Keri Matthews, a mom of two, has worked in the ASPCA’s licensing department for more than five years. She lives on Long Island with her husband, Tom, her children, Gabriella and Tommy, and their Greyhound, Clyde.

After our daughter, Gabriella, spent nearly a year feeling hesitant around our 80-pound mush of a dog, Clyde, she is finally comfortable interacting with him—their bonding has begun!  It is a wonderful accomplishment for our whole family.

How did we finally get to this place? Warm weather has definitely brought these two closer. Gabriella loves to fill her water buckets and have Clyde sit next to her.  She and her brother, Tommy, also enjoy having Clyde as a spectator when they’re on the swing set. Just for sitting through the bucket-filling and swinging, Clyde gets treats and extra petting—a win for all! 

We have also incorporated indoor bonding activities, including having Gabriella “brush” Clyde.  She also loves to fill his water bowl. Both kids love to choose which treat Clyde will receive for brushing, sitting, etc. 

We do have our setbacks, such as when Clyde gets so excited about his treats that he accidentally forgets what “gentle” means when taking treats from Gabriella’s hand. In this situation, we ask Gabriella to put the treat in Clyde’s bowl and all is well again. We make frequent trips to the pet supply store, where Gabrielle enjoys shopping for items for Clyde ranging from toys to treats.

 If your child and pet are slow to bond, hang in there! As in our family’s case, sometimes bonding just doesn’t happen right away. When it does, it’s there to stay, and the love and memories formed between a child and their pet will last forever.

 Two children on swings with dog in background

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