Let Me Introduce You...

If you're having any type of gathering during the Christmas and New Year's seasons, you will probably have children in your home. If your pets are unfamiliar with the pitter-patter of little feet, now is the time to prepare everyone for the interaction.

Consider the preparation in three parts: your pets, the visiting children and what you yourself need to do differently.

The pets:
If you don't have children, try to socialize them with some neighborhood children. Have them and their parents meet you on the porch when you're going for a walk.

* Begin being more touchy-feely with your pets. Chances are the children visiting will want to love and hug on them, so start preparing them for it now.

* Keep mealtimes on schedule. One of the biggest problem areas between kids and pets is mealtime, so maintain your schedule and keep the children away from food bowls.

The children:
Have a talk about respect - don't surprise animals, poke at them, pull anything or harm them in any way.

Explain to them how to speak calmly around your pets and move slowly.

* Show them how to hold your cat or pet your dog. They will learn by example.

* Arm them with some treats and teach them how to have your dogs "sit" on command.

* Let them know that your pets will tell them when they want to be picked up or petted - no chasing allowed!

Never leave a pet and child in the room alone. This is asking for disaster. All interaction should be supervised.

* Have plenty of fun and games planned. A bored child (or a bored pet for that matter) can instigate all sorts of trouble. If the children want to interact with your dog, have some balls or a squeaky handy. Give them some jingle bells or yarn to play with the cat. Don't leave them to find something on their own.

* Have the camera handy. The play time, or nap time as the case may be, will be precious memories for your family. Record them and the children will have wonderful keepsakes of their time spent with your pets.


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