There are a few things that compare to the unconditional love of a pet. Pets do a great job of bringing families closer together and can enrich the lives of their owners in so many ways. People who have a pet tend to be happier and healthier than those without.
Pets can be an integral part of the family, but knowing the right time to bring an animal into your home is tricky especially when small children are involved. Each year, humane societies and pet shelters across the country take in thousands of unwanted pets that are surrendered by their families. One of the most common reasons why a pet is given up for adoption is because its family has not spent enough time training and playing with the animal. Below I have outlined some of the best ways to ensure that your family is ready for the added responsibility of pet ownership.
1. Your Family Is Comfortable Around Animals
Getting a pet isn’t the cure for a fear of animals. If your child is afraid of animals, work on building up your child’s comfort level in ways other than getting your own pet. Visit an animal shelter or spend time with friends’ pets.
2. Your Child(ren) Shows Respect for Animals
Kids must respect the guidelines for appropriate behavior around animals. For example, they must understand pets should not be tugged or hit. They must be touched gently and left alone while eating.
3. Your Child(ren) Can Handle Household Chores
How does your child do when you ask him to make the bed or put away his/her clothes? If they are taking care of their current responsibilities, they may be ready for the responsibilities of pet care.
4. Your Family Is Truly Committed to the Idea of Getting a Pet
Make sure your entire family is in this for the long haul before bringing your new pet home. It is important to determine whether the wish for a pet is a novelty or a desire that will stick around, even when pet ownership becomes a chore. Pet ownership can be a rewarding experience, but if the whole family doesn’t support the idea, then this isn’t the right time to get a pet.
5. Your Family Wants the Pet That Is the Best Fit for the Whole Family
Children need to understand not every pet will be right for your family. Just like people, all pets have different personalities and will interact you’re your family in different ways.
6. Your Family Has a Lot of Energy
If your family loves running around in the yard, going to the park and playing outside, a pet may just be the perfect play mate. If your children are old enough, they can walk the dog together to get some exercise or you can all go as a family.
7. Your Family Has Given Pet Ownership a Trial Run
Offer to watch the neighbor’s dog for the weekend while they are out of town or ask to “borrow” a family member’s pet. This way the family can experience what it’s like to have an animal in their everyday environment.
8. You Have Enough Space
Obviously space requirements will depend on the animal that you choose. Some animals such as fish or birds may only require a small corner of the home while a large dog will need ample space for exercise and training. The pet your family chooses should reflect the amount of space (and time) that you have available.
9. You (Personally) Are Prepared to Take on the Responsibility
Lastly, if your family is going to get a pet, the adults in the house need to assume responsibility for the animal. The best way to think about it is that you are getting a family pet in whose care the children can participate. With good care, most dogs can live 12 to 15 years and most cats can live 15 to 20 years. Therefore it is critical that you consider what is likely to be happening in your own life over the next 15 to 20 years – before you adopt a pet.
Pets can provide companionship, lessons in responsibility, emotional well-being and countless other perks. However, pet ownership is only a good thing when your family is ready for it. If you’re considering bringing an animal into your family guide your decision, so your introduction to pet ownership will be the best it can be.