A pet is a treasured member of the family, and many children are excited to welcome one into the home. However, when bringing a pet into your family, there are several considerations to make beforehand.
Consider your family’s health
Allergies are a common reason for not getting a family pet. If you and your family are thinking of getting a pet, you may want to bring your child to their pediatrician for tests to determine if they’re allergic to things such as pet dander or fur. While some pet allergies are severe, there may be situations where a lighter allergy situation may not be a deterrent for getting a pet. You may need to investigate to find the right pet for your family’s health concerns.
Choose the right type of pet for your family
There are many types of pets that range in size, space requirements, exercise needs, lifestyle requirements, and costs involved in caring for it. For example, a guinea pig does not need as much space, grooming, and exercise as a dog. It’s important to make this decision as a family, regardless of what each individual’s preferences are. A good compromise will help you find a family pet that suits your entire family best.
Discuss a schedule and rules
Your child may be thinking most about playing with your new family pet, but it’s important to have a family discussion about the realities of pet care. Discuss a feeding, walking, and grooming schedule, and who will do what. Ensure your child knows the appropriate safety rules for animals, and that they need to be gentle and considerate of your pet’s personal space.
Prepare in advance
You can get your child involved by bringing them to help you choose pet items like a collar, leash, bed, and food. Also, ask your child to help you make your home and yard more pet-friendly. These are great chances to show your child that taking care of a pet is an important responsibility.
Teach your child patience and empathy
Even if you’ve explained to your child how to safely approach and play with the new family pet beforehand, excitement may take over once your pet is in your home. It’s important to monitor your child and pet closely. Watch for signs of stress in the pet, and make sure that your child is being calm and gentle.
Model empathy around your pet by letting your child see you treating it appropriately. You can also help your child see how confusing it is for your pet to enter a new home, and come up with ways you can help.
The benefits of a family pet for a child are numerous – studies have shown that a pet can help a child learn, reduce anxiety, practice caregiving, and build family bonds. Keep these considerations in mind before bringing home the next member of your family.