“I promise, Mom. Really, I PROOMMMMISE I will take care of her every day. I will walk her, feed her and take care of any accidents. PLEEEEAAASE????”
Many times over the years, I’ve heard this plea. It started with our sons and ended with our daughters.
Three dogs and cats later, we are an animal loving family, but we’ve also learned some important lessons in determining if our children were responsible enough to really take care of their animals.
As parents, it’s critical to ask yourself some very important questions before you let your children talk you into a long term commitment such a pet ownership. As I walk through this process, I am going to use our dogs vs. our cats as an example because in our experience, it’s much more time consuming to care for a dog than most other domestic animals, but the life long rewards of this loyal companion can not be matched.
Simple Questions to Ask to see if Your Child is Ready for a Pet
Are You Ready for a Pet?
I’ve heard story after story of parents who have allowed their kids to talk them into owning a dog, but once the reality of the work sets in, the newness wears off and the parents bare the brunt of the chores.
The bottom line is that if you (the parents) are not ready to take on the tasks of a pet, then it’s definitely not time to get one. While all the promises in the world may occur, our children are still in process and they are growing in maturity and responsibility. There will be many times when they drop the ball on their promises, so you have to willing to pick it up if that occurs.
Do You Have the Space for a Pet?
Obviously, this question depends on the pet you are getting, but dogs need room to run or an owner who has time to walk them. Being cooped up, with no means to exercise, immediately answers your question.
Can You Handle the Financial Responsibility?
While you may be receiving a free dog from someone, that is where the freebie ends. Shots, food, getting spayed or neutered, not to mention monthly flea and tick treatment add up. They are worth the investment, but only if your budget is prepared for it.
What is your child’s temperament? The animal’s?
Is your child loving and gentle or are they at an age where they may “love”on the animal just a tad to hard? Animals’ temperaments vary greatly, so pay close attention when choosing. Some breeds are very unpredictable and feisty, while others like our lab or golden retrievers are very gentle and wonderful with children.
What is your child’s level of responsibility?
Does your child follow through with basic chores that you ask him to do already or is it a constant battle? Pet ownership is a wonderful opportunity to teach responsibility, while giving life long companionship, but if you battle now more than you want, really ask if he’s ready to take on the additional responsibilities of pet ownership.
When our children were a bit older, we drew up a “contract” to reinforce the “promise” that they made before we got a new pet. It served as a great reminder later on that month when they got tired of caring for our new dog. We went over the agreement that they helped draw up and we talked about the importance of keeping ones word. It was a wonderful learning lesson and one they still remember.
It’s so important to ask all these critical questions before determining a new pet. Animals are such an amazing part of family life, but they are a responsibility.
If you have pets, do your kids help take of your pets?
I’d love to hear what some of their assigned chores?
She was waiting patiently while her brother dined ahead of her.
Our kids all take turns in feeding our sweet, yellow labs, but our ten year old daughter takes on most of the responsibility. Since our dogs tend to love their meal time, when our daughter has the opportunity to give them ALPO’s variety dog food, her chore is a breeze. They LOVE every bite! It’s like bringing the restaurant home. Thanks to Alpo for sponsoring this post.