Lots of kids dream about getting their first pet, but with great cuteness comes great responsibility. Here are some tips for helping your children make way for a furry friend.
Don’t make it a surprise
When you give someone a pet as a surprise, you’re basically saying, “Surprise! Here’s a living thing and about a 10-year commitment!” It may seem like a fun idea, but more often than not, surprise puppies or kitties end up back in shelters after the party feeling wears off. Make sure you’ve discussed thoroughly the responsibilities of having a pet with your family and make a decision together instead of adopting one on the fly.
Do your homework
If your child is asking for a certain type of pet, put him to work. Tell your child to go to the library or online (we happen to know a good website) to find out as much information as he can on that animal. Then ask him to compile his research so he can explain to you in his own words what he’s learned.
Loving an animal means coming to terms with impermanence. Talk to your children about the lifespan of their desired pet so they understand the commitment they’re signing up for while introducing them to the idea that one day they will have to say goodbye to their furry friend.
Scope out a shelter
Some kids like the idea of dogs or cats but aren’t familiar with the reality of them, particularly when it comes to smells and sounds. Take your child to tour a local animal shelter so he can see, hear and smell what these animals are like up close. If your kids are old enough, see if they can sign up to volunteer at the shelter for a day to get some hands-on experience before adopting a pet.
Make rules clear
Caring for a pet is a big responsibility, so make sure your child is aware of what he’ll need to do when his new buddy arrives. Map out the weekly or daily pet-related chores and talk about why each job is important.
Practice good manners
Teach your little ones how to deal with animals by showing them how to politely interact with other people’s pets. Learning proper etiquette around animals is the first step toward being a great pet parent.