All parents know the sound of their child begging for a pet. Whether it’s a hamster, cat or dog, your little boy or girl has tried to convince you that they’re capable and willing to do what it takes to look after one. If you’ve decided to give in and let them have a pet of their own, you should be prepared to teach them how to be responsible with their new friend.
The last thing you want is to end up doing all the legwork a few weeks down the line. You don’t want your child to be happy to play but refusing to take part in the upkeep. As well as doing things like cleaning out cages or going for walks, you need to make sure they know how to be gentle and caring too. Owning a pet is an excellent way to develop these skills in children and can help them learn empathy.
Do a Trial Run
Before jumping in and buying a pet, performing a trial run with someone else’s animal can help. You can test if your family really wants and is able to look after your animal of choice. If you have friends or family who own the animal you want to get, offer to look after it for them while they’re away. Spending a week walking, feeding and playing with a dog or even caring for a gerbil will help you to determine whether your child is ready. Explain to them that the trial is so they can prove they can be responsible and make sure you give them tasks to do.
Add Pet Care to Their Chores
If your son or daughter already has daily chores, make sure they know that routine pet care is now on the list. They need to know that the fun things about owning a pet go hand in hand with the boring necessities. You might consider withholding the fun things, like playing with their pet, until they have completed the daily tasks.
Lead by Example
Whether you find little puppies online for sale, visit your local pet shop or find an exclusive breeder, you should make sure you’re a responsible pet owner too. It’s best to buy an animal as a family pet, instead of asking your child to take on all of its care. By showing your children how you care for your new family member, you allow them to copy you. Demonstrating how to treat your pet, from touching them gently to training them, gives your children a strong example to learn from.
Adding a pet to your family isn’t something to go into lightly. You should give it a lot of forethought and make sure your child thinks about it a lot too. Before buying a pet, it’s important that your child knows that pet ownership isn’t all about having something cute and fluffy. It’s a big responsibility that in some cases can last 20 years or more.