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Our top 6 tips to positive and respectful human-animal interactions

Here at GVC we place huge value on applying a holistic approach to pet healthcare which means that we will always consider an animal’s healthcare and welfare from a physical, mental, and emotional approach.

Now, there is a massive amount of information to learn about all three areas but while most vets are experts in the physical, it’s the mental and emotional aspects that can be hardest to qualify and quantify. Luckily GVC’s owner and Head Vet, Dr Katrin, is currently specializing in these areas and has been demonstrating some fantastic results with cats and dogs by recognizing what owners can do to support their animal’s mental and emotional health and happiness.

However, what we’re actually looking to communicate here is the importance of our behaviour when interacting with our animal friends, because obviously it’s a two-way street and what we do and convey can directly impact how our furry pals act, react and live. As the title suggests, it really is something best learnt from a young age as there is certainly evidence to suggest that many pet/human accidents occur as much due to misunderstanding as any other factor.

For example, as a dog owner (without children at home) I am always wary of approaching groups of young children when walking the pooches, not because I have any concerns about the dogs’ behaviour, as they are entirely consistent and friendly. No, because the prospect of young children who do not know how to act around animals creates a stress spike in me. Rushing, yelling, grabbing, and poking are all such inappropriate behaviours but sadly are often both the norm and tolerated by the youngsters’ carers and nannies.

Whilst animals are a cause for happy excitement and pleasure in children of all ages (over 40’s included), the pleasure for both human and animal is multiplied enormously by remembering and following a few basic rules, simple pointers to help ensure friendly fun:

  1. Be respectful. Animals do have feelings too so whether it’s a new pet or a stranger you meet, be respectful of the animal’s space.
  2. Be nice and slow. We don’t all speak the same language so taking it slow and allowing an animal to understand that your intentions are friendly through movement and body language can be very useful.
  3. Be quiet. Yes, dogs and cats are fantastic and make us want to laugh or make weird and wonderful noises, however, as with being slow, noise and speed can confuse and alarm, so the best bet is to lower the volume and help lower the stress.
  4. Be hands off until you’re sure that the animal is happy to be touched. As with point one, respect the space and allow the animal the chance to make the first move – friendly and happy dogs and cats are inquisitive and will often present themselves for a little introduction.
  5. Always ask an animal’s owner whether it’s okay to touch as they will be able to guide you depending on their pet’s behavior.
  6. If in doubt, appreciate from a distance. Our furry friends are wonderful and can bring equal pleasure from near and far.

As adults, we should always set the right example. Children mimic our actions so if they see adults teasing, shouting, or acting in a negative way towards animals, they are likely to follow… and this is where we really believe a difference can be made that will have a positive impact across generations. After all, the bond between humans and animals has been demonstrated over a couple of millennia and more, so this really should be something we cherish and want to enhance wherever possible. The happiness they can bring should, as a minimum, be reciprocal.

This is why GVC’s vets visit nursery schools – because it’s definitely a great idea to start young and help develop some positive associations for the toddlers to remember and grow with. There’s a very good chance that animals will play a part in their lives so learning a few very simple steps now may help to make those relationships as loving and joyful as possible.

And for you adults, if you have any concerns or feel that maybe your pet’s behaviour suggests they aren’t 100% happy, then make an appointment to see your vet as they’ll be able to advise on the physical and then be able to refer any potential emotional or mental aspects for further discussion. A happy pet is often a healthy pet but sometimes a healthy pet may not be a happy one and this is something that we are always very keen to help with.

Call 02 556 2024 or email to learn more.