Is Having a Pet Good For a Child?

Every child deserves to grow up with a pet. A beloved animal does wonders for a child’s physical, emotional, and mental development. For a child, the unconditional love exchanged, the reduction of anxiety felt, and the commitment to caring for a life can set them on a solid path. If you think your child is ready, here are some factors to consider as you choose what kind of pet to get for your family.

What Is a Good First Pet For a Child?

There are a lot of factors to consider when determining what type of pet to get your child, such as the size of your house, the age of your child, how busy your family is, and the lessons you would like to teach. For example, if your child is young and you want them to generally be responsible for taking care of another life, a fish might be a good option. A fish will require the cleaning of a tank and daily feedings.

If your child needs companionship, physical activity, and more responsibility, a Labrador or other breed of dog could be the perfect pet. On the other hand, if your child is ready for some responsibility but not enough that they can devote a ton of time and attention, then a cat may be the best way to go.

 

At What Age Should a Child Get a Pet?

If you are considering getting a pet for your child then it’s important to wait until they are old enough to understand that the pet is an animal and not a toy.  Generally this would be around 5 – 6 years old.  By this age most children would be old enough to handle the pet safely and be able to care for it.  Your local library would be a great place to go to find books on pet care for children.

What Is the Best Age For a Child to Get a Dog?

Before deciding on getting a family dog it is important to understand that pets are a daily responsibility.  Having a family pet such as a dog will help you to teach responsibility to your children, but ultimately the responsibility of the dog’s care will fall on you.  Waiting until your youngest child is around 5 – 8 is a good time to introduce a dog to your family.  

Should All Children Have a Pet?

There are heaps of benefits for children through pet ownership.  As mentioned earlier caring for a pet helps teach your child how to nurture and be responsible for another life. As well as this, dog ownership also provides a silent ear for children to practice reading aloud to, a reduction in the risk of developing allergies, an increased opportunity for exercise through playing with and walking the dog, and cuddling a dog can reduce stress, anxiety and loneliness.

 

How Do I Prepare My Child For Dog Ownership?

There are a few things that would be beneficial for your child to learn before the arrival of a new dog.  

Teach Your Child How to Behave Around Dogs

Children need to be taught how to interact with dogs safely.  Warning cues given by dogs may not be obvious to children so it is important that children are taught the correct way to interact with dogs.  For example ensuring that your child knows not to put their face too close to the dogs face, not to pull the dog’s ears or tail, or to not be rough with the dog is a good starting point.  Once your child understands these concepts then introduce your child to a friend’s or neighbor’s dog under your supervision.  As well as learning how to interact with a dog safely, children also need to have enough empathy to understand that animals feel pain and have needs that need to be met (feeding, exercise, etc) 

Teach Your Child About the Cost of Dog Ownership

While each pet requires different care, most of them at one point in their lives will require the assistance of a veterinarian. Like all medical bills, the costs can add up quickly. In order to avoid the high costs of medical assistance, it is imperative to get pet insurance.

Include your children in the process. Teach them the important lesson of veterinarian costs and how to evaluate pet insurance by considering covered services and deductibles. Also, show them how to choose the right provider. For instance, according to Pet Life Today, Embrace offers insurance that covers accidents, illnesses, wellness visits, and preventative care.

Teach Your Child About Feeding and Walking a Dog Daily

Whatever pet you decide to get will require a daily feeding or two. To prepare your child for that key responsibility, give them a daily task that they have to do for a certain amount of time, every day, before they can get a pet. Some chores you can give them to prepare are:

  • Taking out the trash
  • Setting the table
  • Washing the dishes
  • Helping to prepare a meal
  • Making a bed

If you choose to get your child a dog, they will need physical activity daily.  Depending on the breed, the level of physical activity necessary will vary. So, make sure your child is up for the task; just because they are active outside with their friends won’t necessarily mean they want to run with the dog or throw a ball. A daily walk will require your child to stop things they are interested in so that they can tend to the well-being of their pet. Get them ready for the physical requirements by having them take walks at the same time every day.

If you believe your child could benefit from getting a pet, then it is time to prepare them for the responsibility. Let them in on the decision-making process by teaching them about costs and the requirements to care for the pet. Before getting the pet, help your child understand the responsibilities by getting them into routines. There are many advantages to getting your child a pet; just make sure they (and you) are ready to take that step.

Article written by Author: Brandon Butler and The Dog Daily Expert

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