Pets can be an important part of family life, but knowing the right time to bring an animal into your home is tricky.
Your Child Is Comfortable Around Animals
Getting a pet isn’t the cure for a fear 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. Begin by introducing your child to calm animals, such as older dogs, rather than puppies.
Your Child 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. Just because a child wants to interact with a pet doesn’t mean it’s an appropriate time to do so, and kids need to have the self-control to leave the animal alone.
Your Child Can Handle Family Tasks
How does your child do when you ask him to unload the dishwasher or set the table? If he’s taking care of his current responsibilities, he might be ready to participate in pet care.
No matter the age of your child, however, expect to do spot checks on how they’re doing, and be prepared to take over the responsibilities if they’re not following through.
Your Children Are Truly Committed to the Idea of Getting a Pet
Make sure your child is in this for the long haul before bringing your new pet home. Determine whether the wish for a pet is a passing fad or a desire that will stick around, even when pet ownership feels like a chore.
Your Child Has a Lot of Energy
If your child loves running around in the yard, going to the park and playing outside, a pet may help him or her get all of that extra energy out. If your children are old enough, they can walk the dog together after dinner to get some exercise or you can all go as a family.
Your Entire Family Is On Board
If anyone in your house is allergic to animals or doesn’t like them, then your family needs to respect that. 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.
You’re 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. Even if your child shows every sign of readiness, if you’re not ready, then it’s not the right time.