With the amount of joy owning a pet can bring, it is no surprise most families will at some point think about getting one, but the work it takes to care for them also needs consideration.
While adults might have a good understanding of the level of responsibility pet ownership brings, children often only see the fun side of things. Here are five ways you can help prepare your children for pet ownership.
A great way to gain experience in pet care without owning one is to volunteer to pet sit for friends.
Pet sitting can be expensive so most people would be more than happy to let your kids take the job on and, depending on what animals your friends own, it is a great opportunity to trial different pets before deciding on which one will suit your family best.
You can also offer to walk a friend’s dog for a week to demonstrate to youngsters the amount of exercise they need. Do this with different sized dogs and it will show how consideration also needs to be given to the breed you choose.
Volunteer at a rescue center
Getting your children volunteering at a rescue center offers several benefits. They can learn about a range of different animals, how to care for them, how much work is required for each type of animal and variances from breed to breed.
They can also see all the reasons pet ownership did not work out for people and what that means for the pet who ends up living at a shelter.
The article Getting Your Kids Involved at the Rescue Shelter And Its Importance has more information about this topic.
Pet pros and cons
It can help to make a list of all the pets your family might consider, then write a pros and cons list for each one.
Be honest about the amount of work that goes into each one, the space each type of creature needs to live comfortably and even your own living situation – for example, someone living in a rented apartment with no garden will have more limited options than someone living in their own home with a large garden.
Care for a cuddly
For younger children not old enough to take on full responsibility for a pet, finding an effective way of demonstrating how demanding pet ownership is can be useful.
One option is to use a stuffed animal and make a schedule of care the child needs to stick to, including feeding, grooming and exercise, to show them the level of work they will be at least partly responsible for. It is also a good way to introduce the boundaries a real animal will have.
Practice pet exercise
Certain pets, such as dogs, need regular exercise and the larger the pet the more exercise required.
If your kids have set their heart on an animal which requires their commitment to exercising it, have a practice run – take the walks you would need to take if you did have a dog and see if they are still keen to keep it up every day after a week or two.
Taking your time before taking on a pet will help you to get prepared and may even make you realize before it is too late that you are not ready for the responsibility right now.