If you have kids, but no pets, chances are good you’ve had to listen to some begging, pleading, cajoling, and outright whining when it comes to adding a dog or cat to the family. But there’s more to the coexistence of kids and pets than meets the eye.
Whether the idea of adopting a four-legged family member strikes you as interesting, exciting, daunting, exhausting, or all of the above, it’s not a decision that should be made without a significant amount of careful planning and consideration.
First Things First
Deciding to adopt a family pet is an important choice that will have implications on your home and family life. Before you take the plunge, consider the following:
- Very young kids and very young or small animals generally do not mix well. Take into consideration your children’s ages and maturity levels when it comes to choosing a family pet.
- What is your family’s schedule like? If everyone is routinely out of the house for the entire day, for example, then adopting a puppy or other high-needs pet is probably not the right choice.
- Although you want your kids to be involved in caring for the pet, there should be one or more responsible adults overseeing all aspects of pet care.
Getting Kids Involved With Pet Care
Many parents worry that once the novelty of a new pet wears off, mom or dad will end up bearing the bulk of the pet care duties. To make sure this doesn’t end up being the case in your home, it’s important to set an age appropriate pet care schedule for your child and stick to it. Here are some examples of duties children can perform at varying ages:
Toddlers – Little ones can assist mom or dad with simple pet care tasks, such as gentle brushing, walking, feeding, and giving treats.
Preschool Age – Children ages 3-5 can learn to fill food and water bowls and continue basic grooming tasks, such as brushing with the help of an adult or responsible older sibling.
Elementary School Age – Older kids can enjoy a wider range of responsibilities when it comes to pet care, such as feeding/watering, supervised playing with or exercising of dogs and cats, and helping parents with more advanced grooming tasks such as bathing, nail clipping, and dental care.
Teenagers – A responsible teen can take on the majority of pet care duties such as feeding, exercising, grooming, and other more complicated tasks.
Kids And Pets: The Best Combination
Sharing your home with kids and pets who enjoy each other’s company is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Getting your kids involved with caring for the family pet will not only increase their respect for animals, it will help to instill a sense of responsibility for the world around them.
Please give us a call if you have any questions or concerns about kids and pets!