Creative Child

Is it Time to Add a Pet to the Family?

by Sarah Lyons

Are you thinking of adding a four-legged, furry friend to the family? Adding a new member to the family is fun and exciting but it can also be stressful and disruptive if you are not prepared to take on the responsibility of a family pet. Here are some things to think about before you adopt a pet.

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            Are the kids comfortable around animals?

            Some kids are naturally afraid of animals and it may cause them to act erratically around the new pet which may upset the animal. While a healthy respect for animals is important, kids should be comfortable around the type of pet you are considering adopting. If your child is fearful, do not force them to interact with the animal. Instead, show them how to properly care for the pet and encourage them to participate as they feel comfortable.

            Do they understand how to properly treat an animal?

            Before adopting a new pet, kids should understand how to take care of them responsibly. They should also understand that they must be touched gently and carefully. They should not squeeze, hit, ride on, or drop the animal. Dogs and cats are not toys. If an animal feels threatened or cornered they may growl, hiss, or bite. It is a good idea to explain this to your child and let them know if they are cared for in a loving way, this usually isn’t an issue.

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            Is everyone in the family committed to the idea?

            Adopting a pet is a long term commitment that everyone in the family needs to be on board with. Are the kids responsible enough to take on the tasks of feeding and caring for the pet? If not, is the parent willing to pick up the slack? Do you have proper space for the type of pet you are considering? Is your family home enough to walk and feed a dog? Will the pet get enough attention with your work and activity schedules? Can you afford to care for your pet? Not only will there be an initial adoption cost but there will be food, accessories, vet bills, and boarding costs if you decide to travel. You should also consider if anyone in the family may have allergies, fears, or any other issues that may interfere with being able to commit to caring for an animal for years.

            If you have answered these questions and are still excited about the idea of adding a four-legged friend to your family, discuss with all family members what type of animal would be a good fit. Dogs are generally higher maintenance than cats because they must be walked or have a fenced backyard. They need to be let out at regular intervals, which means someone has to be home during the day to do that. There are also many dog breeds to consider depending on size and temperment. It is wise to do some research on dog breeds before jumping in. Cats are generally lower maintenance because they can be left alone for longer periods of time but they do still need love, attention, feedings, and a clean litter box. If chosen carefully, pets can be a great addition to a family because they bring many years of companionship and enjoyment.

           

 

Sarah Lyons is a stay at home wife and mother of six children, including 18 month old triplets. Using creative consequences with her kids has improved their behavior and encourages healthy relationships with each other.

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