Pets are normally part of our childhood. It is so memorable that it is often asked as a security question, "What is your first pet's name?" when setting up an account. Just like us, our kids are also excited about having a furry friend to cuddle and play with. There will be a moment in your child's life where they will come up asking you if they could have a pet. As a parent, it is your responsibility to gauge if your child is ready or if the entire family will agree to have an additional furry member.
According to Statista's Survey conducted in 2019-2020, dogs are the most owned pet in the U.S. 63.4 million households have them. While 42.7 million households have cats and 11.5 have freshwater fish. Choosing the right pet for your child is one thing, but knowing that he or she is ready for the responsibility is another thing. Here are some questions to ask if your child is ready to be a pet owner.
Can your child handle simple tasks at home?
Being a responsible pet owner includes feeding, grooming, cleaning up their waste, etc. Do you think your child can do regular pet feedings or just simply refilling the water bowl without being told? If you are not sure of this, check if your child can do simple tasks like putting away the laundry or brushing their teeth without constant reminders. Consider your child's age and maturity. Most kids ages 6 and up, are the ideal age that can do simple pet duties. If your child can do those things, he could be ready to take the responsibility of having a pet.
Is your child comfortable around animals?
Has your child been around animals before? Did she show interest, or did she get scared when a dog came near her? See if your child shows some serious interest in having one. Sometimes they are only interested because they watched a movie about dogs and wanted it to experience in real life. See if your child respects animals by not harming them and giving them space. If you are unsure of this, you can bring your child to a friend or relative who has pets. You can also let a neighbor's pet sleep at home for a night and see how it goes. Your child must understand that animals have feelings too, and should be respected. If so, then your kid is ready to own a pet!
Is your child able to consider other pets that fit the household?
Your child may want to have a Jack Russell Terrier or a rabbit that is sensitive and fragile. Consider if a particular pet fits your family's lifestyle and household. If most of the family members are busy and not at home, an energetic dog may not be a good fit as it needs regular walks and play activities. Talk to your child that you can only allow low-maintenance pets like hamsters, cats, or guinea pigs. See if your child will consider first the animal's needs. Your child may not be ready for the responsibility if she disagrees and insisting to have a specific pet. Also, consider the pet's characteristics. Let your child know that some breed of dogs are unpredictable and may harm younger kids in case you have toddlers in the household.
Does your child understand that pets are permanent?
Your child might be begging you to let him have a pet. You need to make sure that your child understands that taking care of a pet is permanent. Explain to them that it is a lifelong responsibility. It is not a toy that you can easily give up when you get bored. Let him know that you as a family need to take care of it until it gets old. Coming up with a decision should not be like a spur of the moment. It is big responsibility for all family members, so better decide carefully. Your child should understand that having a pet is like adding a new member of the family.
Does your family have allergies or medical conditions?
If your child or a family member has asthma, eczema, etc., it may not be a good idea to add a furry pet into the household. Although pets can bring good health benefits, they can also be a health hazard if our family has health conditions. Talk to your doctor or a veterinarian for advice. If the experts do not permit having a furry dog or a cat at home, explain it nicely to your child. You can offer alternatives like having a pet fish or a bird or even consider hypoallergenic cats and dogs.
What about you? Are you ready for a pet?
Moms and Dads should be ready physically, mentally, and financially to do pet responsibilities. There may be times that your child may not be able to do their pet duties, so you should be willing to take over. You will be doing dog baths, cleaning cages and wastes, bringing them to the vet, etc. You are your child's role model, and you are teaching them responsibility. Always show your kids how to love and care for your pets, and they will follow your lead. After all, these animals deserve to be treated well as they give us happiness and comfort and are considered family members.