Every parent has heard these words “Please can we get a pet?” Children are drawn to animals and just love to play and cuddle with them. Pets however, are a huge responsibility so you need to make sure the whole family is ready for the commitment. Here are some questions for you to ask and answer before you make your decision.
- Are your children old enough and responsible enough for a pet?
- Does your child enjoy the outdoors, exercise and sports?
- Are they responsible for their own homework?
- Do they show compassion for other animals?
- Are they responsible and do all their chores without too much whining?
- Is the family ready for this commitment? There are costs involved which include food, kennels, and vet bills. Can you manage this?
- Do you have the time in the family’s busy schedule to care for the pet and exercise the pet?
- Is there someone at home during the day or will the pet be on its own for the day?
- How will the pet be cared for when you are away on holiday?
- Are you prepared to care for the pet for its whole life?
Some important thing to consider about your lifestyle before getting a pet:
- Other animals in the house. Consider how the new pet will fit in with your other pets.
- Garden concerns. How fussy are you about your landscaping? Dogs dig holes and their urine can affect the lawn.
- The elderly and small children. Do you have an infant or an elderly family member living in the house? Consider their safety when choosing your pet.
- Home environment. Are you very particular about having a perfect home? Dogs and cats leave hair on carpets and furniture. Cages take up space and need cleaning.
The benefits to having pets are:
- Exercise. Kids with pets go for walks, run and play more. Taking a dog for a walk, riding a horse, or simply chasing a kitten around are fun ways to fit healthy daily exercise into your schedule.
- Confidence. Looking after a living thing that is reliant on them will make your child feel needed and valued. This will help boost their self-esteem.
- Compassion. Having a pet in the house teaches the child to care for another life. Sibling bonds are also strengthened when sharing the love and care of a family pet.
- Responsibility. Looking after and feeding the pet encourages childhood responsibility.
- Commitment. Looking after a pet every day and ensuring it is happy and healthy is a great lesson in committing to do something and seeing it through.
- Calming. Cuddling a pet reduces stress and anxiety. Animals give humans unconditional love so if your child is having a difficult or stressful time then giving the pet some attention is the perfect antidote.
- Values. Empathy is learnt in the unconditional caring for the pet. Love is also shown in the affection and cuddles.
If you have made the big decision to get your family pet then teach your kids that they are not toys or play-things but breathing, living needy beings. Pets do require a lot of our attention. Set up a chore chart and a schedule and decide who will do the feeding and the walking. The best time to get a pet is probably in the holidays when everyone is at home. The pet will then have a chance to settle in and not feel too lonely.
Have fun and enjoy the love, companionship and loyalty that your pet will bring into the home and family.