When the family comes together for the holidays, is most commonly the time when parents look at their smiling children, wondering if they should add just one more member to the brood – is our child ready for a pet? It seems that at some point every child is interested in having a dog or a cat. Perhaps a friend of theirs has one, or they have fallen in love with a playful pet cartoon on television. Some children, especially girls think of a new pet a baby they can wrap their arms around and call their own.
Whatever the reason, if you have children, you will likely question whether or not it’s time for a pet. Here are just a few of the common signs that your kid might be ready for a pet:
It’s great to see the general enthusiasm for gaining a dog or cat as a part of the family, but has your child done his or her research? Responsible kids will ask other children their age what it’s like to have a dog or cat. Others will take notes, excited to bring them home to you. Perhaps your child has already taken into consideration the responsibility of house/crate training, walking the dog and caring for it with kindness.
If these questions have been put to thought, chances are, your child likely has some general idea of what they’re getting themselves in to.
Is He or She Already a “Helper”?
Kids hate chores. We have yet to find a boy or girl that loves cleaning the floor or picking up toys. However, if your child (even if he or she isn’t excited about it) does, willingly help around the house, this shows an increased level of maturity. A child that understands mom, dad or two parents are busy folks, and wants to help out, will likely take on the care of a dog or cat at a reasonable level.
You might find that a 2 or 3 year old child might not be washing dishes, but an 8 or 9 year old will be able to take on simple tasks. These tasks might include: refilling the pet’s water dish regularly, feeding regularly, cuddle/attention for the pet on a regularly basis, etc.
Is He or She Well-Behaved Around Other Family’s Dogs?
A child’s behavior around another family or friend’s cat or dog can really give you a shining idea of whether or not he or she is ready for a pet. Does your child pet the dog or cat quietly, or is he/she tugging at their ears, driving it nuts? Does your child offer to help take the dog out, or give it a treat?
Search for quality signs that your child is mature, no matter what his or her age, to determine if he/she can help with the responsibility of owning a pet. Even if your child is shy and reserved, this type of child can make a wonderful caretaker.
It isn’t really about the money of adopting a dog or cat and buying all of the ‘things’ that make it real. It’s about knowing if your child will be a good part of the family team when caring for a new pet. Pets become part of the family and will be with you for quite some time. So know that if now isn’t the right time, that there’s always the possibility in a matter of months or short years when you as a parent feel like your child is ready for a four-legged friend.