Pets and children

Making sure both children and pets share a happy home

 children and pets, girl holding a cat and boy with a dog on a sofa

There is a magical bond between pets and children, with many pets thriving from the attention and fun times. However the consequences of a poor relationship can be tragic, and we want to do everything we can to keep your family, and pet, safe.

Why pets and children don’t always mix

Children grow up fast, and with their changing bodies comes unpredictable movements, unusual body language that a pet struggles to read, not to mention the noise!

Consider how children grab and tug your hair and clothes, hug you, lie on top of you, even slap you – they will do that to the pets as well, but you have the capacity to understand them, pets do not. 

The important thing is all pets have a limit, and everyone, and every pet, has days they don’t want to be disturbed. 

How we judge rehoming and ages of children

First we look at the animal's history – if they have lived with children before and how they coped – as well as an assessment with our Behaviour team. The behaviour tests include looking at the pet’s reaction to movement, excitement levels, and being handled. We have a real life room where some of our assessments take place (see image below).

Stray pets have no history of course, so we have to rely solely on the behaviour tests and err on side of caution. This does mean that we have fewer dogs and cats to rehome with young children, so it will take longer to find you a match.

Puppy dog under assessment in our real-life room

Is it better to buy a puppy/kitten rather than a rescue when you have children?

Not really – because behaviour and personality is much more predictable and settled as an adult. Puppies and kittens can be more flexible as they are learning about life, however we have the experience to predict how tolerant even young cats and dogs will be to family life. 

Remember, kittens and puppies still have their limits, and will get bolder in asserting themselves if not continually not listened to. 

» What to consider when getting a puppy or kitten 

stressed dog showing stiff body language, closed mouth and whale eye

This dog is showing several signs of stress and discomfort – can you spot them and know what to do?

The 3 best things you can do to have a safe home

1. Listen to your pet

Learn about cat or dog body language and about early signs of frustration and discomfort. Then, when you can see these signs, remove your children from the situation rather than your pet. This builds trust with your pet, that you will help them and they do not have to take matters into their own hands (or paws).

» Download a fun dog body language poster

» Download a fun cat body language poster

These posters are by Lili Chin and are for personal use only.


2. Never disturb a pet whilst they are eating or sleeping

Put up barrier gates at dinner time, and create an ‘alone space’ for snoozes – we often use crates for dogs and high beds for cats. Have house rules such as ‘no touching them in their bed’ and everyone must stick to them (even you!).


3. Holiday fun

School holidays are exhausting, and for your pet as well! Dogs and cats love routine and it is confusing that their 11am sleep is now full of children that are normally at school. Make sure your pet can stick to their routine as much as possible, whilst still enjoying the family break.



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