How to Know if Your Child is Ready for a Pet

This post was sponsored by PetSmart through their partnership with POPSUGAR Select. While I was compensated to write a post about PetSmart, all opinions are my own.

I don't know what it is, but there is a certain age that kids hit that they just start begging for pets. Maybe there is a class in school that they teach called "you need a pet or your childhood will be ruined" or maybe it's just something that is innate, but whatever it is, I think every child at some point in their childhood asks for some kind of animal.
For my youngest son it was a fish. Which really is quite fitting because we joke that Owen is part fish anyway. Owen is drawn to the water. He just seems to find comfort there. 

Last summer we couldn't deny his desire to have an aquarium and after promising that he would take care of the tank himself, we realized that he did indeed seem like he would stand true to his promise and we allowed him to get a fish tank. Not one to be excluded, my daughter set up her own much smaller tank with a Betta fish. 

So how will you know if your child is ready for a pet? I have a few questions that you can ask yourself that might help you decide if your child is ready for the responsibility of a pet.

How to know if your child is ready for a pet, some simple questions to ask yourself

About six years ago we got a family dog. Sophie has taught us many things and I see great value in having a family pet. I knew that when we got a dog, she would be a loyal member of our family. No one person would "own" her, she would be all of ours and while the kids promised lots of things {they would always clean up the poop in the yard-HA!}, we would all take care of her. 

When my son was asking to get fish as pets, those would be his responsibility. Something he would take care of, with our help as needed. So how did we know that he was ready for taking on that responsibility on his own?

Well, we had seen him with our dog. You may not have a family pet already, but you may have seen your child exhibit signs of responsibility in other areas. Do they handle their belongings with care? Do they take their current responsibilities seriously? Is your child able to remember and follow through on daily tasks like brushing their own teeth?  

You want to make sure that your child can remember the daily task of feeding their animal the correct amount {this is so important, especially if you have fish!}, and that when it's time to change the water or clean a cage, your child can handle most of that task on their own and they do it in a timely manner.  

my daughter's set up for her Beta fish named Luna

Another thing that your family should take into consideration is the amount of time you have to invest in a certain animal. We spent a lot of time at our local PetSmart before we set up the tank to find out what would be involved in taking care of a fish tank. The employees were super helpful. Every one we talked to had a tank of their own at home and had lots of experience to draw on. We had a dog sitter for our puppy, but if we left on vacation what would we do if we had a 10-gallon tank full of fish? 

The PetSmart staff assured us that there were feeders that we could buy if we were going to be gone for a few days. If your family is often gone or if your child has a sleepover, who will take on the responsibility of the animal when your child can't do it? My kids take turns helping each other out if they have sleepovers. They take great care in turning off the tank light at night to allow the fish time to unwind and make sure that they consistently feed the fish at the same time every day.

You also want to make sure that you have a helpful resource to turn to if you have questions regarding your new pet. Of course we have a vet for our dog, but we rely on the helpful support and knowledge from the PetSmart team. They are our go to source if we have any questions. Who can you turn to if you or your child have questions about the care of your pet?

We had never had a fish tank before and there was a lot more to it than just making sure that the fish had clean water and fish food. The PetSmart staff helped us figure out what kind of fish would work best in my son's aquarium, and which fish would be happy together and then gave us all the details we needed to know how frequently to change the water {every two weeks} and how much water to change. They even pointed us in the right direction for what kinds of chemicals to use to keep the fish water a happy, healthy place for my son's fish.

A fish ended up being the perfect pet for our kids to have. Not only does it create a really relaxing environment in my son's room {there is nothing like hearing that soft swoosh of those aquarium bubbles}, but it's also helped our kids exhibit responsibility. Pet ownership has a lot of benefits. Making sure your child is ready for it will only increase the overall satisfaction of pet ownership for your whole family.


Pam Kaufman said...

I think your tips are great but, after just losing our cat of 12 years, I think another important thing is how will your child deal with the loss of their pet. Our daughter is 13 and grew up with our cat Molly. It's been hard watching and helping her get through this painful time. I don't want to be a downer but feel his is an important thing to consider too.

Lisa Martens said...

I definitely remember going through the pet phase with my daughter. We got a puppy but knowing it would primarily be my responsibility but she would help with it. I think animals teach kids so many great lessons.

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