Getting a family pet can be such an amazing and enriching experience. Pets make great companions and can teach kids about responsibility and compassion, as well as valuable lessons about nature and life itself. How much time, effort, and resources is your family willing to set aside to welcome an animal into the family? Here are some things to think about before gifting your child with an animal friend.

First and foremost, pet ownership is a commitment. You should be willing to properly take care of a pet for the rest of its life. Don’t just get one for novelty’s sake. Are you ready for when the initial excitement wears off? Will you and your kids step up to ensure that the animal will never be neglected, lonely, untrained, abandoned, or left in poor health? If you’re wholeheartedly dedicated and you feel like everyone at home is on board, read on.

Living situation

Get a pet that’s appropriate for your home. Look into more compact pets for an apartment like fish, reptiles, rodents, cats, and small dog breeds. Bigger pooches need more space in order to live their best lives and reach their full potentials. Living in a house opens a lot of doors to the number and types of pets you can accommodate, but your family’s resolve to raise an additional member should always be the most important consideration.

Little toddlers

Toddlers under the age of 5 are definitely not conscientious enough to take on any serious responsibilities. You can bring an animal into your home provided that all duties will fall squarely on adults and older siblings. Now is the time to start teaching kids to respect an animal’s boundaries. Tell your little tikes to be gentle and mindful in their interactions with any animal. Toddlers are rapid learners and can actually pick up these lessons surprisingly fast.

Reception aged children

Youngsters in kindergarten can learn how to appreciate a pet from a respectable distance. If you get a fish, bird, or a small rodent like a hamster, gerbil, or guinea pig, little kids can be given tasks like refilling food and water. You still need to supervise physical interactions and be any pet’s primary caregiver. Individual animals will respond differently to a curious child, and some may not be as tolerant. After all, animals mainly communicate through body language. We can’t read their minds and young kids might have a harder time sensing their animalistic moods.

Primary school kids

You can delegate some pet-related chores to kids attending primary school since they have developed motor skills and basic judgment. Age-appropriate responsibilities can include scooping up dog poop, cleaning out the litter box, bathing, scheduled feeding and removing the hair in the house. The pet hair vaccum has special features like cutting edge suction and may save you a lot of trouble. Still, you may feel more comfortable if your child is accompanied when walking a dog around the block. School-age kids can independently care for small mammals and clean their cages all on their own. They can also flex their imaginations through building creative obstacle courses and elaborate pens for little critters. Always remind everyone that cages, pens, aquariums, and terrariums all need regular maintenance. School-age children that develop an interest in animals are likely to conduct their own research, too.

Preteens

Tweensl can internalize what pet ownership really involves. They can take on more responsibilities, but need your help with adult stuff like visiting the vet. Because middle school preteens are entering the teenage phase, they will have more homework, activities with friends, distractions, and pubescent matters on their minds. Keep reminding them that loving a pet comes with responsibility and everyone should contribute to caring for animal companions.

Preparation and reward

Know what you’re getting into. Research on the proper temperaments, diets, stimulation, habitats, and needs of different species and breeds. You also need to intimately know your child’s personality and health issues like allergies to pick the right pet. Your due diligence, loving guardianship, and continuous commitment will pay off. Pets can create absolutely beautiful moments and memories, fill a household with joy, and teach anyone, of any age, how to become a better, caring human being.