This is a partnered post.
One of the things that a lot of kids want in their home is a pet. Some kids have a preference as to what pet they want, and others just want a little friend that they can talk to and play with. The thing is that a lot of kids don’t understand the responsibility that comes with having a pet, and this is where things start to get tricky. You don’t want to be looking after the pet that your child begged you for 24/7, which is why you need to help them understand just how much they will be taking on if you get a pet for the home. Of course, you can’t expect your kids to look after the new family addition all by themselves, so it’s going to be a joint effort and this is something you need to explain to them.
But, how do you make a child understand the responsibility of having a pet? Well, there are a number of ways that you can do this, and in this article, we’re going to be looking at some of them. If you would like to find out more about this topic, keep reading down below.
The first thing that they need to understand is how important it is to feed the pet everyday. Whether you get a dog, hamster, cat or whatever else, they are going to need to be fed daily. Some pets require feeding once per day, others more so and you need to talk this through with your kids. Let them know that it will be their responsibility to feed the pet and how important it is that this is done. Sure, you can remind them to do so if they forget, they’re children, they probably will, but they need to be willing to do this when needed.
Most pets will get into a set feeding schedule, so feeding them at these times is going to be crucial. You don’t want your kids to think that they can just pick the pet up and put it down whenever they are ready, because this is now how it works. Sometimes, they’re going to have to stop whatever they are doing to feed the pet that they wanted so badly, so ensure that you have talked this all through with them.
Depending on what kind of pet you get, walking or exercising the pet daily is going to be important. One of the family favorite pets to get is a dog, and your kids need to know about walking the dog on a daily basis. Depending on the age of the kids, they might not be able to go and do this alone, but make it clear that you expect them to come with you, or one of their older siblings when it’s time. It doesn’t matter what they are doing at the time, when the pet needs to be walked, they have to go.
This is where you are going to get a lot of agreement, but when the time comes you’re probably going to get the most pushback. Kids think that walking pets is going to be fun, and sometimes it is, but on other occasions it is simply walking around. It can get quite boring for young children especially, so this is another point that you need to drive home. In fact, if you have multiple children, then we recommend setting up some kind of rota as to who goes on what days and at what times.
Or, if you get a pet that doesn’t need to be walked but does need to be exercised, they need to understand what this entails. For example, rabbits need to be able to roam around free for at least a little while every day or every other day. Depending on where you are going to let the rabbit out, it might need to be watched to ensure it doesn’t get hurt or lost. Explain to your kids that it is their responsibility to keep an eye on the pet while it is out of its hutch or whatever you are keeping it.
Nobody really wants to clean up poop. Let’s face it, cleaning up poop is one of the worst parts about having any kind of pet, and kids often forget that this is necessary. As humans, we know that when we need to go, we head to the toilet and then we’re all done. This isn’t the case with a pet, and it’s going to be far more efficient to clean up the mess as it is made. Of course, this isn’t going to be possible with all pets, but for the ones that this can be done with, it should be. Make sure to tell your children that if you have a dog for example, their poop needs to be picked up when it’s done, and it is whoever is with the dog at the time that needs to be doing this.
Or, if you don’t want to do this, there are other options. There are pet pooper scooper services available to do this if you would rather your kids aren’t doing this. Look into this option if you don’t trust your kids not to throw the poop or leave it where it is anyway.
As a new member of your family, the pet needs to be treated as such. You spend time entertaining your children so that they aren’t bored all the time, and the same needs to be done with the pet. It’s true to say that some pets don’t actually require entertaining, so try to gage where your children are at in terms of how much time they are wanting to actually spend playing with the pet before you choose what to get. A dog for example will sleep for a lot of the day, but when it is awake it is going to want to play. Your children need to understand that the dog itself is not a toy and cannot simply be picked up and put down at their convenience.
It is no use getting a pet like a dog if there is going to be nobody to play with it. Or, if there is nobody who is willing to spend time with the dog everyday. Dogs especially are extremely loyal animals and they want to be played with and part of the family wherever they can.
Let Them Try It Out
If your kids are still wanting a pet after you have explained all this to them, then we recommend testing it out. Don’t commit to buying a pet until they have shown that they are going to follow through with all the promises that they have made. For example, get them to go on a walk at the times the pet would be walked. Give them a toy pet to look after, and get them to treat it as if it is a living, breathing animal.
Keep this up for a month or so, and if they don’t get bored, then it might be time to get a pet for your family. If not, then you’re going to need to wait until they are a little older or a little more responsible.
Hopefully, you have found this article helpful, and now see some of the ways that you can help your kids understand the responsibility of having a pet. A lot of kids think they want their own pet, but it is the parent who ends up caring for them, and if you don’t want this to be the case in your household, then you need to take these steps to ensure your kids know what they are signing up for. Good luck, and we hope that this makes your kids at least think twice about whether they are ready to take on the responsibility of a pet.