Wednesday, April 24, 2013

how do i know if my child is ready for a pet

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owning a pet is no easy business.  most types require daily care, attention, and love.  we have two cats that have been with us since before my son was born.  however, due to a recent interest in hamsters and mice, we are considering getting Bear a little tiny furry friend.  i will admit, though, that i am somewhat hesitant because i know that, ultimately, i will be the one providing the care, or at least closely monitoring it.
all this got me to thinking...
how do i know when my child is ready for a pet?
here are some tips to consider when thinking of getting your child a pet:
  • Make sure your child is old enough to do some of the care for the pet.  This can include watering, feeding, and playing with the little animal.  Keep in mind that several animals, such as cats, hamsters, birds, etc will likely require you to clean their litter boxes or cages for sanitation reasons. {NOTE: it is not safe for pregnant women to clean out a cat litter box}
  • Keep track of how often your child asks for a pet.  Does the topic only arise when you're at the pet store or the house of someone with a pet?  By noting when and where your child asks, you can determine if it's a true desire or just brought on by being around the animal and then forgotten.
  • Does your child understand the concept of being gentle when handling animals?  Pet care often requires a soft touch {especially with tiny ones} to keep the animal safe.
  • As a family, make sure you have the means and time to care for the pet and give it the attention it deserves.
  • Give your child some simple, age-appropriate household chores {making their bed, emptying the bathroom trash, taking their dirty clothes to the laundry room}.  If they are able to consistently perform them with minimal supervision and reminders, they are showing that they are responsible enough to care for a pet.
  • You child should understand boundaries when it comes to other's pets.  While at the park, children should be taught to approach new animals cautiously and wait for the approval from the owner before getting too close or touching it.  After permission, the child should gently and calmly touch the animal.  Such boundaries will help your child handle your own pet in a way that won't startle or anger the animal.
After all these points to contemplate, you're ready to get {or not get} a pet.  Just please remember: 
A pet is not a gift.
It is a commitment for the length of their life.
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