How Children and Pets Are Living Together During Stay At Home Restrictions


Dogs and Children

Dogs and Children

Does your home feel like you are living in a 3 Ring Circus? Are your children and pets taking over your house?

Working At Home.  Home-schooling At Home. Pet-Care At Home.

Welcome to Ireland 2020.  Where the Covid-19 restrictions have created chaos and confusion in our daily lives.

You have become a juggler and multi-tasker extraordinaire. But stop for a second.  No one person can do it all.

This is not the way life is supposed to be.

So, give yourself a break and do not be too hard on yourself. We are living through unprecedented times and in order to come out the other side with our sanity intact we need help.

Think back to before the pandemic started.

  • You went to work and focused on your job for the day
  • Your children went to school or childcare
  • Your pets were taken care of by a pet sitter

You are not supposed to do it all.

So, what can we do in the coming months to alleviate some of the pressure until we can get back to our new normal?

Children And Pets – Challenges.

Trying to get your toddler or baby into a healthy sleep routine but your dog barking keeps disturbing afternoon nap time?

Just put your children’s lunch on the table and your opportunist pet has helped themselves to some chicken and is now licking the plate clean?

There is help available.

Pet Sitter

Even though childcare is still an issue to be resolved during the restrictions, your pet sitter is available and can visit whenever you need a bit of support, so your baby can have an undisturbed afternoon nap or your children can enjoy their lunch without having to “share” it with your pet – As your pet will be out having fun on a nice long walk.

Of course, we love and adore our pets and children but together they can be quite the challenge while you are trying to work and cook dinner and get a wash on.

I remember when my sister had her first baby and was preparing to bring her home. She was a bit concerned as she had two girls already and they were of the fluffy canine terrier variety. What would they make of the baby?

Herself and her husband had done some research about introducing your new baby to your pets, so they followed those steps and “Jenny & Judy” were delighted with their new human sister, especially as she got older and dropped down her food to them from her high chair – how thoughtful of her.

Anyone who has observed children and pets would agree that their needs are quite similar.

They need:

  • Routine
  • Structure
  • Interaction with their peers

Unfortunately, at the moment it is quite challenging to satisfy these needs but there are some steps you can follow.

Dog Playing Outside

Children And Pets – Benefits.

Children love to get involved and feel like they are helping, especially at the moment when they are missing the mental stimulation of learning at school.

Get your child involved in caring for your pet.

There are many benefits for both child and pet. It will help reinforce their bond and research has found that children are calmer and more relaxed when they have a pet.  The reason for this is that a hormone called oxytocin is released when we humans hug, touch, or look lovingly into someone’s eyes and recent research has proved that this also applies to our pets.

Start with the basics and talk to your child about your pet – ask questions

  • Do they think your pet might be thirsty?
  • Do they want to help with feeding?
  • Would they like to hold the lead?
  • Do they think your pet needs a blanket in their dog bed?

This will encourage empathy in your child and nurture responsibility.

It also teaches respect for animals when a child understands that our pets have feelings just like ours. Our pets get thirsty, hungry, love to go for a walk, feel the cold.

It is a win-win situation as your child and pet feel happier, so you have less worries .

I remember when my nephew was about 3 years old begging to hold my oldest dog Brucies lead when we were walking around Marlay park one day. I knew I could trust Brucie as he had grown up around my other nieces and nephews, so off they went walking along the path together delighted with themselves.

It is a beautiful thing to witness the bond a child and pet can have.

Playtime together is a great way to enrich both your child and pet and tire them both out so you can enjoy some quiet time for yourself after.

My sisters cat Buddy loves to play football with his human brothers – it really is true. He runs up and down after them as they kick the ball to each other and pounces on the ball.

Dogs Playing

Games To Help Your Pets And Child Bond

Hide & Seek is a game dogs love and can be played using healthy treats like carrots. Show your child how to hide them under some empty pot plants in the garden then ask your pet to “wait” which is fantastic for your pets impulse control and then say “Go find.”

Old Socks or Storage Boxes can be used for hiding treats or favourite toys. Layer it up to make it as easy or as difficult as you want.

Great fun for your child to help you organise and imagine the extra fun your pet will have trying to get their favourite squeaky toy out of an old sock or searching through a box full of old rags with hidden treasures of treats to find.

Agility Trials (At Home):

Children LOVE this and your dog will enjoy the challenge.  Either order online and pick out a starter Agility kit

Or

Make your own one using items you have around the house and garden:

  • “Weave poles” can be garden planting sticks
  • The “Agility Ring” can be a hula hoop
  • “Jumps” can be plant pots and garden planting sticks

We Will Get Through This Together – Tools To Cope.

The benefits of children and pets living together far outweigh the challenges but help yourself by having a plan.

  • Routine (Keep daily mealtimes, playtime, and sleep-time regular)
  • Structure (Stick to a weekly plan of activities)
  • Interaction with their peers (for now your children and pets will be each other’s best friends)

Organise help when you need it – plan in when you need your pet sitter to alleviate the pressure – Routine and Structure will mean you can make the most of having more time at home with your children and pets .

Then when bedtime arrives children and pets will be satisfied after their enriching day and will nod off peacefully together as you read their bedtime story 😊

Pet Sitter

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