Animals can be such a wonderful addition to a family, and they can teach kids important life skills such as compassion and responsibility. But they are also a lot of work, and your child might not be quite ready for one just yet.
Most children love animals and if you don’t already have a pet, then chances are you’ll be hit up for one as soon as they learn to talk. There are a lot of great reasons to introduce an animal into your family when the kids are young – love, responsibility, compassion, or even aid for children with special needs (with the right type of pet). But how do you know if it’s the right time?
Are they ready for a pet?
Here are six telltale signs your child might be ready to have their own pet:
1. They’re comfortable around animals
Kids need to feel safe and confident in the company of animals. It’s not a good idea to get a dog if your child is terrified of them. It won’t cure their fear, and is likely to create more anxiety as their home now makes them feel unsafe. If your child does show signs of being scared you can help this by introducing them to animals slowly by visiting shelters and other families with calm pets – such as older cats and dogs.
2. They don’t have allergies
Many children are actually allergic to certain animal fur. If your child suffers is one of them, then a turtle, lizard, fish or guinea pig might be more suitable. It’s a good idea to expose your child to the same breed of pet you wish to buy to check they don’t have any allergies. The last thing you want to do is get an animal they love, but then have to re-home it because you didn’t realise they have an allergy.
3. They show animals respect
Not being afraid of animals is not a good enough reason alone to get a pet, ideally children should show signs of love and respect for them too. This way you know they understand the boundaries and won’t ever harm your animal.
4. They’re committed to the idea
Kids change their minds all the time, especially when they’re little. Don’t be rash. Make sure you have plenty of conversations about what getting a pet will involve, so you know they’re really on board before you make the purchase.
5. They can handle all the necessary tasks
Even young children are capable of doing small tasks, and ideally you want them to be involved in caring for their own pet. If they are already doing dressing themselves, helping pack away toys and loading the dishwasher; then they should be able to hold a dog lead or put cat biscuits in a bowl.
6. They have lots of energy
If you’re thinking of getting a dog then you need to really consider which breed would be best for your family. Most canine breeds are very energetic and require a lot of exercise. If your child is just as energetic, then a dog could be the perfect companion for them.
Are you ready for a pet?
Just because your child is showing signs they’re ready for a pet, it doesn’t always mean that getting one is the best idea for your family. Even if your child is helping look after the pet there are some parts you will have to do yourself. Purchasing their food, vet check-ups, organising pet minders when you’re on holidays, supervising walking, and cleaning up the poop will all fall on your to-do list. You also need to consider if you can afford all the extra expenses a pet will bring to your family budget.
Choosing the right one
Take your time to choose the right pet for your family. What your child thinks they want might not be the best option for them once you consider their temperament, activity levels and the size of your home.
The right type of pet, at the right time can be a wonderful, life-changing moment for your kids. Just be sure that they’re ready. Good luck!
How did you know your child was ready for a pet? Did it work out well? Tell us on Facebook!