Is Your Child Ready For A Pet?

Boy and puppy

There comes a time when your child will ask you, "Mom and Dad, can I get a pet?". When children set their hearts on something, you can be sure that they will use all their charm and childish wiles to get their way. They will say things like, "I'll never ask you for anything else for the rest of my life!" or "I promise to do really, really well for my exams." They will stomp their feet, cry or even give you the silent treatment.

It's better to be prepared for such a situation before the time comes. How are you going to react? Are you going to be the sensible but boring parent who refuses flat out or simply say, "Not until you are old enough, dear". Hope that the phase will pass soon or genuinely consider the request?

How do you know whether your child is ready for a pet? These are 3 important questions you need to ask yourself.

Are your children mature enough? What are the signs your child is mature enough for a pet? Observe if he or she frequently breaks toys or treat them very roughly. Children might think that a pet is meant for entertainment just like any toy and to be chucked away when it gets boring. Has he or she spent substantial time around animals? If not, try bringing them out for a few visits to an animal shelter. Notice if they look forward to going back or if there are signs of waning interest.

Ask them why they want a pet. Be sure to explain to them the responsibilities associated with getting a pet. Discuss with them the chores and responsibilities that they are willing to share. Children tend to get excited over the prospect of having a pet to play with that they forget about it being a long-term commitment.

Make sure that you do not have babies or toddlers who are too young to understand how to treat an animal, in which case, inviting a pet into your home may cause harm to both of them.

Family bathing dog

Do you have the time? Sure, your child may be willing to look after the pet, but are they capable of shouldering such responsibilities? Like it or not, you will have to take charge of chores like training, grooming and taking care of a sick or injured pet. Even for the chores that your child has agreed to take care of, they will most likely need supervision and reminding. You have to decide if your schedule allows for the regular interaction and attention that a pet needs.

Can you afford it? Having a pet in your house can be an expensive affair. It's a recurring expense which needs to be worked into the family budget. There will be regular food costs, licensing and veterinary care. Depending on your pet, there may also be other costs such as food dishes, pet insurance, beddings, collars and grooming accessories.

Here are other questions to ask yourself before making the commitment:
  • Does everyone in the family agree to adopting a pet?
  • What type of pet is appropriate for our family lifestyle?
  • Can we meet the special needs of the breed that we have chosen?
  • Are we prepared to deal with pet problems and bad behaviour?
  • Does anyone in the family have allergies?
  • Do we travel frequently and what arrangements will be made when we are out of town?
  • Do we plan on moving any time in the foreseeable future?