Mom, Can I Have a Dog?

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For the busy family with children, choosing a pet is a huge commitment. A pet is not just a toy or playmate, but actually a living, breathing member of the family that requires responsible love and care in order to survive. A pet can be a gentle, lovable and loyal addition to your family. A lot of thought should go into adopting a pet when you have a child.

In choosing the perfect pet to adopt for your kids, you have to first consider their age and maturity. The last thing you want to do is bring a young or tiny animal into your home and subject it to possible abuse because the kids do not fully understand the responsibility, needs and frailty of that new family member. Children beyond age six are usually a little more mature and capable of understanding how to handle a new kitten or puppy. It depends on the child. If you know your child will respond appropriately when told not to pick up the tiny animal for fear of dropping it, you may be ready to adopt a small and/or very young animal. If not, a larger, older pet may be more appropriate. That’s not to say that you should decide on a dangerously large pet. This is where research comes in to find the right animal that is very kid-friendly.

Some children just don’t have it in them to be devoted to the time and attention it takes in caring for a high-maintenance animal such a dog. A cat may be a better choice because of its independent nature. They don’t require as much human interaction and can be left alone, happily, for hours and more. They also don’t need to be walked and exercised regularly, which are among the needs of a dog.

There are pros and cons to having pets in the home. They do fill a void because it is nearly impossible not to smile with the presence of a cuddle or snuggle and wag of a friendly tail. However, pets are also a big responsibility both physically and financially. They require food, a cozy place to sleep, toys to play with and regular exercise and visits to the vet for good health.

Sometimes it is best to consider a small pet for the kids until they can prove they can take on the care and responsibility of another living creature. Such pets may include fish, a turtle, guinea pig, hamsters or gerbils. They take up relatively little space and are less costly to care for while teaching your little ones that these living beings do indeed require love and care. Once they have proven to be a responsible pet owner, then you may move on to choosing your favorite breed of dog.