Including a pet in your family can be wonderful and rewarding. But there are many things for your family to discuss before taking on the responsibility of an animal addition to your household. Talk together as a family and consider:
Why get a pet?
There are lots of good reasons to have pets, such as love and companionship. But it is important to really talk about the different reasons why each member of your family wants a pet. For example, parents might think getting a pet is a good idea to help teach kids responsibility and how to care for others. But kids may think that a pet is just something fun to play with when they feel like it. Knowing what is on everyone’s mind can help your family figure out if everyone is ready to commit to a pet.
What pet should we get?
Take a look at your family’s lifestyle and talk about what kind of pet would be best for your family and good for the pet. How much time do members of your family have to devote to a pet? Does everyone understand that your family is responsible for your pet for its entire lifetime? How much space do you have in your home for a pet and the things your pet needs? Does anyone in your family have pet allergies? Would having a certain pet mean that some family or friends could not visit? Take time to read and learn about the costs involved, life spans, and care requirements of pets that might be a good fit for your family.
Are we set for a pet?
A pet is a big responsibility. Some pets are easier to care for than others, but all pets need love and attention every day. What pet responsibilities is your child willing and able to take on? Are parents or other family members willing to teach younger kids how to care for your pet and be responsible for its health and well-being? And is everyone aware that sometimes kids might need help or reminders in meeting their pet responsibilities? What can your family do to keep track of the daily needs of your pet? Make decisions about who will do what to take care of your pet. Be sure to also think about your pet’s long-term health care and trips to the veterinarian.
When you get your pet
Make sure your family is all set to welcome your pet. Discuss to find out if each member of your family knows:
- All the details of how to care for your pet
- What his or her responsibilities are in caring for your pet
- That there are consequences for your pet if responsibilities are not met
- How to keep your house pet-safe
- The household rules that involve your new pet
- What to do if there is an accident or emergency involving your pet
Your pet is part of your family and will thrive on love and attention.