January 23, 2018

Children and Pets

Pets and Children

Our dog - Tiger Lilly

Do you have pets in your household?  If so, how many, and what kind? There are many pros and a few cons to owning pets.  Mostly, with adult supervision and loving encouragement, pets add a wonderful dimension to your family.

What should you consider before getting a pet?

There are many things to consider when getting a new pet.

  • First, are you able to afford the needs of this animal?  Although its not the first thing that pops into our mind when we see that adorable little puppy, the reality is that he isn’t free.  Even if you decide to adopt (which is the most conscientious thing to do) these little cherubs come at a cost.  There’s the up-front fee, there’s the spay/neuter fee, initial vet visits for wellness check-ups and shots, and of course all of the food and accessories, not to mention possible future emergency vet costs.  As long as you are okay with all of this, it looks like you’re on your way to being a responsible pet owner.  But not so fast!
  • Pets need your attention each and every day.  For example, dogs are a highly social animal.  They need loving interaction and care from you.  If you don’t have this kind of time, then maybe a dog isn’t the right pet for you.  If you get a puppy, be doubly prepared!  They have to be with you constantly (they are babies, after all), potty trained, and will most likely chew up some of your valuable possessions.  They can add so much love and fun to your life, but if you’re not mentally prepared for the inevitable, don’t opt for a puppy.  However, with a loving attitude, we can adapt to our new love, and grow together in ways that words cannot convey.
  • Another thing to consider is how this new pet will get along with any existing pets.  It goes without saying that if you have cats, then adding a bird will take a little extra planning.
  • There are many rescue organizations that have wonderful animals for adoption.  Check your local rescue clubs and shelters!  They usually have additional information to help you find the right pet.

What kind of pet should I get?

  • Horses are also a highly social animal.  If you decide to adopt a horse, you must have the proper land and housing for such a large pet.  Money is also an issue, as horses tend to be the most expensive of all pets.  Look into what it costs:  horses need regular check-ups, shots, very specific feeding regimens (hay is not cheap), regular hoof trims by a qualified farrier, and lots of time and attention from you.  If your horse has any health problems, then the expenses can soar!  Because they are so large, safety is an issue, and investing in horsemanship classes is a must!
  • Birds are, yes again, a highly social creature. (Afterall, that’s what makes them a good pet!) In the wild they mate for life.  When they are brought into your home as a pet, they will bond very closely with you and expect much of your time and attention.  If they are left alone too much, they will develop psychopathological behaviors such as feather picking or weaving, and very often will die.
  • Cats are thought of as being the most independent of pets.  While they are somewhat self-sufficient, they do require love and attention, and of course the regular vet visits.  Since cats are so self sufficient, we have to watch out for them.  We can’t normally keep them in a fence, so make sure they don’t get onto a busy road where they often get hit my cars, and make sure your neighbors are friendly with your cat.  If you live in the country, cats often fall victim as prey to large birds and coyotes.  Make sure they at least have plenty of fresh water and dry food available at all times.

Never get a pet and expect your child to take full responsibilty.  Children need us to nurture the idea of love and responsibility by setting the example.  Always follow up when asking your child to feed or care for a pet.  They don’t have the mental maturity to take on this task without our help as parents.  When helping them to care for a pet, always use kind and encouraging words, never scorn or punish them, or resentment may take shape.  All of this will translate into the way they interact with and care for humans.  That’s why learning to love and care for a pet is so important.

Lastly, there are circumstances where children cannot have pets due to health issues.  If your child has allergies, the very best action to take is to get a good allergist/immunologist.  Many children, including myself when I was young, have benefited from these doctors, and grown to be able to own pets.  When horse and cat dander was once almost a death sentence, it is now tolerable for me, and what a blessing for an animal lover!  If your child cannot have pets, then taking them to a zoo is always a treat! And remember, aquariums are a great option for these kids, who can love and nurture a creature of the water.

Could you use some parenting help?

One tool that we’ve used is Total Transformation by James Lehman. It’s given us a lot of solid, common sense ideas for parenting our challenging children.

About the author: By

Kris is wife to Robert and mom to Gabriel, a wonderful little boy. She enjoys animals, especially horses, and likes to write about children, pets, and other things close to her heart!

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  1. My 6-year old daughter hasn’t stopped bugging me to get her a pet puppy. I’m a bit hesitant because of the hygiene issue. Besides, we live in a condo.

    Thanks for this article. I may consider other pet options, just to please my kid 🙂

  2. My kids and my husband really want to get a dog. Having a pet is takes a lot of responsibility. And you must be physically and financially ready.

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Disclaimer: We are not psychologists, counselors, or therapists. We are parents of children with special challenges, and the techniques, tools, and programs we recommend on this website have worked for us on our parenting journey.

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