5 Signs Your Kids Are Ready for a Pet

They’ve begged. They’ve pleaded. They’ve promised to do all the chores for the rest of forever if you’ll just let them get a pet.

While your kids may say they’re ready to take on the responsibility of caring for a pet, the reality of that responsibility every single day may be more than some kids are ready to handle. From feeding to walking to cleaning up after them, the tasks that pile up aren’t as pleasant as the thought of just owning a pet.

How can you tell if your kids are really ready for pet ownership?

Here are 5 signs to look for:

Your Child Is Comfortable around Animals & Respects Their Space

Some children may say they really want a dog or cat, but when they’re up close with one, they shrink away.

If your child is the type to seek out a pet in any home you visit, this means they love animals and want to be around them. Crying, running away, or other fear responses when in the presence of animals means your child still isn’t comfortable enough for full-time pet ownership.

However, it goes beyond just enjoying being around animals.

Many children, especially young ones, get too up close and personal with animals, which can provoke a fear or defense response in the pet. If your child thinks it’s a game to ride on a dog’s back, chases the cat that’s shying away from being petted, or gets up in an animal’s face, they’re not yet ready to be around a pet all the time.

Once your child understands that pets have feelings and needs too, and can give them their space, they’ve shown the maturity and respect necessary to be a pet owner.

Your Child Can Handle Simple Household Tasks Alone

Things such as putting dirty dishes in the sink, putting away laundry, or even brushing their teeth without constant reminders are all signs your child has the maturity and responsibility necessary to be a pet owner.

Some forgetfulness is expected, as children can easily get swept up in their favorite toy or a TV show, but if they need constant reminders to complete that one task that’s always expected of them, you may end up doing all the pet care if you welcome a dog or cat into your home.

If you want to see if your child has the responsibility necessary to feed, walk, clean up after, and otherwise care for a pet, consider adding one extra task to their day in the weeks before you make a final decision. This can be a test to see whether you need to harp on your child to take care of a responsibility, or if they’re independent enough to do it themselves.

Your Child Wants to Find the Right Fit

Getting stuck on the idea of a tiny kitten or a fuzzy bunny is common in kids that want pets. However, your child has to be mature enough to realize that not every pet will be the right fit for your family.

If you’re always on the go, for example, a high-energy dog isn’t likely to be a good choice. Instead, help your child consider the option of a fish or a cat, who needs much less attention, as an alternative.

Seeing that you need to consider the pet’s needs as much as the humans’ is key to knowing that it’s time to add a pet to your family. Children who are dead-set on only getting a puppy or kitten aren’t yet ready to consider the needs of the pet and may not be ready to tackle the responsibility.

Your Family Is Ready for a Pet

Just because your child is begging for a new pet doesn’t mean the rest of your family is.

Everyone’s wishes and needs must be considered before adding an extra member of your family. If you’re expecting a new baby in the near future, for example, the adults may have less time and energy to devote to a new pet, meaning it isn’t the right time.

Sit down with each member of the family, individually, and discuss the idea of getting a pet. See if everyone is ready to pick up the slack if someone doesn’t do their part, and find out what type of pet they feel would be a good fit. Once everyone’s on board, you can begin discussions about the type of pet that may be right for your family.

You Are Ready for the Responsibility

While the pet may “belong” to your child, as the adult, the responsibility for the pet’s care and keeping falls squarely on your shoulders.

If your child doesn’t feed or walk the pet or doesn’t have time to complete the task, for example, you will need to take on that responsibility for the best care of your pet. You also will be the one financially responsible for the bulk of the pet’s care, and you will need to keep an eye out for any medical issues that may need attention.

Experienced Veterinarian in Frederick, MD

Whether you get a brand new puppy or adopt a senior cat, the team at Old Farm Veterinary Hospital is here to help you keep the family pet healthy and happy. From routine checkups to boarding, surgery to dog grooming, our staff provides thorough, compassionate care for your pets. Schedule an appointment today!