Are Your Kids Ready For a Pet? Here’s How to Find Out

If your kids have been nagging you about getting a pet for some time now, it’s a good idea to figure out if they are actually ready for the responsibility. Taking care of an animal is, after all, not an easy job – and if you’re not careful, you’re going to end up having to take care of the pet yourself.

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Here is a handy guide for all parents considering getting a pet for their kids. When they do it right, it could teach them both empathy and responsibility at an early age.


First: Does your kid feel comfortable around animals?


The first thing you need to think about is how your kid behaves around animals. If they shy away from dogs and have never attempted to approach a cat in their lives, they may not be as interested in taking care of it as they are in the idea of having a pet.


Their friends may have dogs or cats, for example, and it’s typical for kids to want whatever their friends have. Some kids are naturally scared of kids even and if you have noticed this in your own child, getting a pet is not going to cure them of their fright.


Bring them to a dog shelter, to begin with, and let them interact with the dogs there before you make up your mind. Start by introducing them to calm dogs, such as an older dog rather than a puppy, and see if they feel a bit more comfortable around them.


If you really want a dog yourself but feel uncertain since your child seems to be afraid of them, it’s better to let them watch you interact with the dog instead of forcing them to do it.


That way, you can set the example of how they should be around the dog – and when they see how comfortable you are, they may be brave enough to step out of their comfort zone.


Next: Does he or she brush their teeth without being told?


If you’re fairly certain that your kid is happy to be around dogs and cats, it’s time to evaluate their level of maturity. There are many ways to do this, though, and you should think about how well they handle their regular tasks around the house; if they moan and complain about unloading the dishwasher, they’re certainly going to do so when it’s time to walk the dog.


Another tried-and-tested way to figure out just how mature they are in terms of responsibilities is to see if they remember to brush their teeth without being told.


If you constantly need to remind them to do this, chances are that they won’t be that responsible when it comes to taking care of the pet either – and you might be better off waiting another year.


Children who manage their own responsibilities, such as cleaning their room and making their bed, as well as taking care of their own grooming without being told are showing a level of maturity which they can use to participate in taking care of the dog as well.


Does your kid have a lot of energy?


Sure, most parents feel like their kids are bursting with energy – but this tends to cool off at a certain age, though. Think about what your child likes to do in his or her spare time and if they will find walking the dog to be a bit of a chore rather than something fun.


If your child loves to run around in the yard, cycle around the neighbourhood with his or her friends, and generally just being out and about, a dog may be an excellent choice. A dog would love an active owner and an active child will simply love a dog to keep them company on their adventures.


If your child, on the other hand, prefers to stay indoors and you struggle with getting him or her to just walk outside with the trash, it’s not going to be easy to make them walk the dog. Think about a different pet that requires less activity outdoors, for example, as these may be a better fit for your child.


The whole family should be ready


Before you decide on anything final, it’s important to keep in mind that the entire family needs to be ready for a pet. If one of you have allergies, it’s sadly a no go – so make sure that this is something that’s discussed beforehand.


If the whole family doesn’t quite support the idea of pet ownership, it may be better to wait and see if they come around. It is, after all, something that is going to affect everyone. Have a look at to learn more about choosing a pet for the entire family.

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Consider getting a low-maintenance pet


If your child is still a bit too young for a dog or you doubt that he or she will be that into taking it on walks after the first couple of weeks, you should consider getting them another pet. It can be a great stepping-stone towards learning to be more responsible and giving them a sense of achievement.


Consider a rabbit, for example, or a guinea pig. While these pets also require both love and care, they won’t need as much exercise and attention as a dog – and you can keep an eye on how well they clean the cage and remember to change the water.


If you choose to get one of these pets, you should try to find a veterinarian in your area that specialises in these types. Have a look at, for example, and learn more about caring for your new pet while you’re at it.


Give pet ownership a trial run no matter what kind of pet you choose, by the way, by taking care of the neighbour’s dog, cat, parrot, or rabbit while they’re away on holiday. That way, you get to consider how your kid is acting around the pet and whether or not they are truly committed to taking care of one.



One Response to “Are Your Kids Ready For a Pet? Here’s How to Find Out

  • I always tell my child that it needs a lot of responsibility taking care of one. You will know when they are ready otherwise as you’ve said in my case I’ll just end up taking care of the pet on my own instead.

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