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Tips & Resources

Signs Your Family Is Ready for a Pet


While pets can bring a lot of joy to family life, the decision to adopt or buy a pet needs to be a carefully considered one, especially when children are in the equation. Your child or young teenager may like the idea of a pet, but do they understand what pet ownership entails? And are they prepared to shoulder some of the responsibility?

Here are some tips to help determine when is the right time to add a furry, scaly or feathery friend to your family:

  • How does your child behave around other people’s dogs? Is he comfortable? Does he show them respect? Observe how your child behaves with other people’s pets to help determine if he is ready for a pet of his own.
  • Does your child help out around the house? A child who is conscientious about his existing chores is probably better prepared for the responsibilities of a pet than a child who is not.
  • Does your child remember to brush their teeth without reminders? And take care of their personal hygiene without prompting? This is a good litmus test for determining if your child is ready for the responsibilities of taking care of a pet. If she can take care of themselves, she may be ready to help care for a pet.
  • Has your child/teenager done their research? Does he know what goes into caring for and training a puppy? And is he truly committed to the idea of caring for a pet over the long haul? These are important questions to ask before bringing a new pet into your home.
  • Is your child’s schedule already full of commitments? If your child’s schedule is filled to the max with after-school activities and homework, practically speaking it may be difficult for him to take on another set of responsibilities.Is your child energetic? An active dog could help an active child expend a lot of extra energy by running and playing together.
  • Has your family given pet ownership a trial run? Volunteer to pet sit for a weekend, so your child gets a real feel for what pet ownership entails. This is a great way to give your child the real-life experience of caring for a dog or bird before diving in.
  • Are you prepared to take on the responsibility? Your child may be 100% ready for pet ownership, but that’s not enough. The adults in the household need to be on board too, because caring for a happy pet is a family commitment.
  • Is your entire family on board? If one member of the family is against getting a pet, bringing a new pet into your home could cause tension and become a source of resentment, which isn’t good for you or the pet.

Carefully considering your family’s readiness, space and schedule will help determine not only when to get a pet, but what kind of pet to get too. For the sake of your family – and future pets – do your homework and resist making impulsive decisions.