Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Teaching Pet Safety

When introducing a new dog or cat to the family, parents usually lay down a few rules, such as who is responsible for feeding and cleaning up after the animal, and whether or not the animal is allowed on the furniture. Beyond that, problems are handled as they arise, which can lead to negative interactions between children and pets. All too often, these issues can result in the child fearing the animal, the animal being given away, or even the animal being put down, none of which are desirable.

If you are thinking of owning a dog or cat, or simply want to teach your children how to best interact with them, check out Dr. Amanda Chin’s workbook, Pets' Playground: Playing Safe in a Dog-And-Cat World.

Loaded with information on the history, behavior, and care of dogs and cats, Pets' Playground provides a wonderful, fact-filled way for families to learn together. The text is around a third-grade level, but it is ideal for reading together. The pages are filled with photographs and illustrations. Matching games, mazes, drawing activities, and fill-in-the-blanks are scattered throughout the workbook. Additionally, more advanced words are used, but they are quickly defined in a matter-of-fact manner, and a comprehensive glossary can be found at the back.

Dr. Chin strives to give useful information without creating fear. For example, instead of simply saying, “Don’t approach strange dogs,” she demonstrates through illustrations and explanations pets’ body language, how to approach animals, and what to avoid doing to them. Dr. Chin discusses how to make a home pet-safe, what pets should and should not eat, and what to expect at vet visit.

On a personal note, we used this book with our two sons. Our eldest has a strong fear of dogs, which we have slowly worked to mitigate. This book was a part of that process, filling his mind with facts and numbers, which made dogs seem less intimidating to him. Our youngest son has no fear of animals, and therefore was a little too enthusiastic with his displays of affection toward our cats. We used this book to show him how cats like to play and how to read their signals better. Our eldest still is wary around new dogs, but warms up to ones he sees repeatedly. Our youngest is much better about petting the cats (“Head to tail, Mom. Head to tail.”)

For more information on this book and other pet issues, visit Dr. Chin’s website at
Article by Sarah J. Wilson

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