Animals and children have been a great match throughout history, and nowadays many families with children feel a bit incomplete without at least one critter in the mix. But whether it’s a cat, a dog, or something else entirely, pets are a lot of responsibility. So, how can you as a parent decide when your child is ready for a pet? Following these tips will help:
Introduce Your Child To Other Pets First
Chances are you have friends or family members with pets. Have your child interact with the animal, but stay close by to monitor them. Is your child gentle with them? Do they know not to pull on their fur (or feathers) or act aggressively? Does the pet seem to enjoy their company? If you can’t answer “yes” to these questions, take some extra time to teach your child how to interact with pets.
Consider The Ages Of Your Children
There is no one right age to get a pet, but certain considerations must be made for different ages. Toddlers, for example, will need a lot more supervision while around animals and they won’t be able to help with caretaking for quite a while. Likewise, pre-teens and teens may be very enthusiastic about having a pet and may even be interested in having one they can care for alone in their room (fish, guinea pigs, reptiles, etc.)
Determine Whether Or Not Your Child Understands Caring For A Pet
No matter what kind they are, all pets require a certain degree of responsibility. Taking care of a pet is a great way to teach kids responsibility early in life, but are they ready to take this on? Decide how much you want your child to be involved with caring for the pet, then determine whether or not they’re ready for it.
Get Ready For Your New Responsibilities
It’s not just the kids who have to be prepared for new responsibilities. As the adult, you’re the one who has to make sure the pet’s needs are met every day. Even if certain tasks (like feeding, walking, cleaning a litter box, etc.) are designated to your children, you still need to make sure they do them. If you’re getting a puppy or a kitten, you’ll also have the extra responsibility of ensuring that the new critter is housebroken and adapts well to its new life with a human family. So even if your kids are ready for a pet, are you?
Want A dog? Consider Breeds That Are Known For Being Good With Children
The truth is that most (if not all) dogs in general can actually be great with children, especially if they are exposed to them while they are young and are disciplined firmly once any sign of aggression is displayed. That said, certain breeds will take to interacting with children more easily than others. Golden retrievers, labs and bulldogs are well suited for children, for example, so one of them may be the right choice if you’re set on getting a dog while you have a young child. The American Kennel Club has a more extensive list of dog-friendly breeds here.