Children love to ask parents for pets, even if they already have quite a few. In fact, most children just love animals — they like to name them, imitate all their sounds, and are just curious about them.
But, of course, bringing an animal into a home as a permanent member of the family is a big step. So, before running out to get the cute, furry animal, take a moment to read through these tips we’ve compiled.
Caring for an animal involves quite a lot, so it’s a good idea to go over a few questions:
- Who’s going to take care of it? Realistically, we know young children aren’t capable of fulfilling all the duties of animal care.
- What will happen to the animal when the family is away?
- How much of the day will the animal be alone at home?
- If considering a dog, how will it get regular exercise? Is there a fence in the backyard?
- Is this the best time financially to adopt a pet? Make sure to think about veterinarian costs and shots as well as pet food.
- For cats, is there a good place in the home for a litter box?
- Will the animal require a lot of grooming? Keep in mind that long-haired dogs need to be groomed in order to keep the fur from getting matted and tangled. Long-haired cats also require some grooming.
Although adults may have to provide the lion’s share of pet duties, young children can learn to help. Adding a pet to the family is a great way to start teaching responsibility.
For example, consider assigning animal care tasks as part of daily chores, taking the children along on dog walks or asking older children (kindy and up) to let the dog in and out before and after school.
However, do not expect children to take care of the pet completely — something to keep in mind as the decision about pet adoption is made.
What kind of cat or dog?
It is estimated that, in 2016, there were more than 24 million pets in Australia, meaning 62% of Australian households owned a pet, according to Australian Veterinary Association. Dogs are the most common with almost two in every five households, followed by cats with nearly three in every 10 households.
But do some research ahead of time — talk with the people working at the animal shelter about the best breeds. Some important things to consider:
- Are there young children in the family who might need a patient animal?
- Will the animal hair be an issue? Does anyone have allergies?
- What about size? Cats and dogs come in different sizes.
- Will the cat need to be declawed?
Baby animals are cute, but…
One important factor to consider is the age of the pet, especially in the case of a dog or cat. There is no denying that puppies and kittens are adorable. There wouldn’t be so many mesmerising YouTube videos if they weren’t!
Baby animals require quite a bit of work. It can be fun to take in a puppy or kitten and raise them from the beginning, but it’s important to consider where they’ll sleep, who will toilet train them, and how much time they will spend alone in the home.
An excellent way to add to the family is by adopting an older animal. There are lots of cats and dogs who are wonderful companions, yet aren’t puppies or kittens. Many are a year or two old, but deserve a forever home and could make a loving addition to a family.
A good place to adopt animals (young and old) is at a local RSPCA or other animal shelters. These shelters provide excellent care for the animals and often spay or neuter the animal as well as provide initial shots. Plus, the volunteers and workers are great at giving advice on which animals might work for a particular home situation (young children, limited backyard, etc.).
Beyond woofs and meows
Perhaps a cat or dog just isn’t a good fit. Not to worry, there are other animal choices available! Everything from fish and birds to reptiles are all alternatives to traditional pets.
These pets might be an especially excellent option for families without a backyard or aren’t home as much. However, families should note that some of these pets are just as much work as dogs or cats, if not more.
The best advice is to do research. If searching for an alternative pet, it might be a good idea to talk with professionals at a veterinary clinic that specialises in these types of animals. They are the experts who will be able to explain what exotic pet care will entail.
Even after reading, talking to friends with pets and discussing as a family, parents can still feel undecided about which pet makes sense. If this is the case, try this fun cheat sheet from Parents Magazine to figure out what animal might be best. Research shows that animals provide comfort, love and companionship for families. Children will enjoy the constant love and friendship that animals provide — and the same goes for adults!
If your child is coming to a Petit Early Learning Journey centre each day, then you’ll be glad to know that we will be happy to help your child figure out ways to remember to help with your new pet. Book a tour at a centre near you.