Family pets are a nearly ubiquitous sight in households throughout the United States. Many families have bought or adopted an animal and have taken it in as one of their own, whether it be a dog or a cat, or even something more exotic, like a lizard, a snake, or a pet turtle. Very often, each member of the family plays an integral role in taking care of the animal, with some taking it for walks, others keeping it fed and watered, and others still taking it to veterinarian appointments whenever necessary.
While pets provide plenty of entertainment and unconditional love, they are also a lot of work. Children often want to bring a pet into the home without fully understanding the responsibilities of taking care of an animal.
In light of this, we have crafted a short list of ideas to consider if your children want a family pet. Make sure to keep these in mind before you adopt your new furry friend.
It’s a Family Responsibility – and Not One That Just Falls on the Shoulders of the Parents
When your children ask for a pet, they may promise to take care of everything. Parents know that this probably won’t happen. But you don’t have to take on all of the burden if you have reasonable expectations of what your child is capable of. You may have a discussion about what kind of care your pet will need and talk about who will be responsible for what. As a parent, you are the best judge of how responsible your child is. Does your child often take on big projects and start off strong but have trouble finishing or is your kid the kind of kid that achieves everything she sets her mind to? That can be a great basis on what to expect if you get a pet.
Naturally, some children, toddlers especially, will be much too young to truly care for the family pet, and will need to grow before they can help out with any of the daily tasks. However, even school-age children who desire to have a pet in the home are able to fill an animal’s food or water bowl, or clean up after it, either inside or in the backyard. These are issues that you may want to discuss with your little ones before you bring home the pet; they may not fully understand the work that comes with caring for an animal, but it can be helpful to provide them with an overview to make sure they are prepared for what to expect.
Try Taking Care of a Friend’s Pet for a Week
If you discuss with your child the responsibilities associated with having a pet, and they are still eager to adopt an animal, you can further the process by offering to take care of a friend’s pet for a week to get started. Doing this will give you the chance to see how your children handle having an animal in the house, and whether or not they are ready to take on the responsibility of providing it care.
Try to get an animal that your child is already familiar with. Make sure that the pet is child friendly, you don’t want a dog that is skittish around kids. Your kids may start off excited about having the cat or dog in the house, but end up thinking that keeping an animal full time is too much work. They may also end up showing you that they can care for a pet and be responsible.
Getting a pet is a big commitment since many animals live for many years. You may want to start small and see how it goes. Hamsters and guinea pigs make good pets, and are less work and smaller commitments. They are good pets in apartment buildings and may satisfy your child’s desire for a pet.
You may also start with a stuffed animal. Having a stuffed animal as a pet is great because you can take it with you wherever you go, it never gets sick, and the care is minimal. Small children may have a hard time learning to be gentle with living animals and a stuffed animal is great for practice. My First Vet Set is a vet set that comes with a cute stuffed dalmation puppy.
Getting a Family Pet
Does your child want to adopt a family pet? If so, make sure to consider these few ideas before bringing home the newest member of your family.