Pet Adoption Guide 2011

What you need to know before you adopt a pet. Photo by Lizzy Yates.

The bond between a kid and his pet is a very special one. We all remember our first pet. Whether it was Bubbles, a goldfish, or a furry friend named Fido, our pets were not only our playmates but they taught us a great deal about loving and caring for others. As a parent it can be hard to take that first initial step toward pet ownership. At some point the Zhu Zhu pets just won’t cut it, and our little ones begin asking for the real thing. How do you know your child is ready for pet ownership? How do you know what type of pet to get your child? Easy! Consult this Pet Adoption Guide!

Pets Teach Kids to be Responsible

Your mother was right–pets are a big responsibility. Your kids won’t want to hear this (you probably didn’t want to hear it either as a kid). But don’t ignore your child’s request for a pet just because you don’t think they are capable of handling the responsibility. Be open to the fact that they will need the opportunity to have a responsibility in order to learn to become a responsible person. Start off small. Fish are a terrific first pet because children can play a large role in caring for them. Even preschoolers can handle caring for a fish. Starting the pet experience off with a small, low maintenance pet like a fish will help your child gain a sense of confidence in their abilities to care for an animal. However, other pets that require more attention, like a cat or dog, can present an ideal opportunity for parents and children to bond while caring for the pet together.

Before you run out to the pet store, sit down together as a family and search for ways to care for the desired pet. For example, if your child is eager to get a dog, read about the different breeds and their behaviors. Talk about what you have to do to care for a dog and ask your child if they think they can handle the necessary tasks like feeding, walking, and playing with their pet. Understanding every thing required to care for a pet could make or break your child’s desire to become a pet owner. Visit the zoo and watch as the zookeepers care for the different animals. Being able to watch someone else take care of an animal will help your child understand the necessity of the tasks.

Pets help children develop social skills

Animals, like people, have personalities all their own. As your child interacts with their pet, just as they would another child, they will learn quickly what is and isn’t acceptable. Guinea Pigs will squeal when they are squeezed too hard, dogs will bark louder and louder until they get attention, cats will hiss if you pull their tails, etc. Remember, parents serve as role models for their children. Kids learn responsible pet ownership by observing their parents’ behavior.

Pets help children learn about emotions

Helping your child develop good, strong relationships with their pets will benefit them the rest of their lives. Positive relationships with pets can aid in development of trusting relationships with others. A good relationship with a pet can also help in developing non-verbal communication, compassion, and empathy.

For your children, pets can be a listening ear, and the keeper of all secrets and private thoughts. They teach children life lessons like reproduction, birth, illness, accidents, death and bereavement, and their unconditional love, loyalty and affection will be treasured forever.

Do you have a special pet adoption story? Let us know below!