Has your child asked you for a pet yet? Like most parents it’s hard to say no. So, if you decide to say yes and get your child a dog or cat, there are some do’s and don’ts you should follow. We want to make our kids happy with a new pet, however, it can turn into an unfortunate situation if not done right. Here are some do’s and don’ts with pets and kids.
Think About a Pets Age for Kids
There are many adult dogs in shelters that have grown up with kids from their previous owner. Adult dogs are often easier because they are already trained and patient with children. Also, shelters love to see their adult or senior dogs go to great families. Often times shelters will offer extra support that breeders do not provide. However, a puppy might be ideal for your child where their energy complements each other. Having a puppy and child together allows them to grow and adapt to each other.
Buy Based on Price
If you're buying a pet from a breeder, don't buy solely on price. A pure bred pet may only cost $100 but you can end up paying thousands more in health care. Buying a pet from a reputable breeder at the right price can give you a pet that is healthy and patient with children. In addition, just because the pet is free doesn’t mean the right fit either. Your new free adopted pet can end up hurting your child if it’s not planned well. Maybe the previous owner could not handle taking care of the pet because it was too aggressive or costly. Buy or adopt based on the right fit and personality, not just with low price.
Let Your Kids Interact With Other Pets Before Owning
Having your child interact with pets on a regular basis is very important. This allows you to see if your child likes being around pets. You can also have them shadow or watch what another pet owner does. Your child will witness firsthand what they may have to give up in order to take care of a new pet.
Forget About the Responsibilities Involved with a New Pet
Ask any pet owner what is involved in taking care of their pet and you will receive a laundry list of responsibilities. Some parents will buy their child a pet to teach them about responsibilities. This can be a good method, but it can also be too much just for a young child. Caring for a pet should be the entire families responsibility with an adult taking the lead. It should never be the sole responsibility of a young child. Make sure everyone in your household knows their role and responsibilities when caring for your new pet. We recommend creating a task chart before purchasing to visualize the time and effort it takes.
Teach Your Kid to Respect Pets
Pets and kids together is not an automatic bond. Many times they can be afraid of each other. Teaching your child how to respect pets is important, so they are not mistreated. Make sure to teach your child their boundaries with pets.
Leave Pets alone with Children
Leaving a new pet and young child alone is potentially hazardous to both parties. Children under 5 should never be left in the same room with a pet without supervision. An untrained pet could hurt a child and vice versa. Children need to be taught how to interact with pets from petting to proper playing.