Pets can play an important role in
your life as well as provide a constant source of enjoyment friendship
and fun. They provide us with loyalty, companionship, nurturing,
intimacy, love and affection as well as physical benefits. My
family recently purchased our first puppy "Chloe" who is pictured on
this page. My daughter is 10 and my son is 13 and it has been a
great experience for them. They realized when we went on vacation
for spring break, an left the puppy with their aunt for a week, just how
attached they have become to her and how much they missed her and
worried about her well being. This compassion is not something
that can be taught it is something that must be learned!
Benefits to Children Having
Owning a pet will
allow children to develop compassion, understanding, and non-verbal
communication skills. Showing children the importance of caring
for another creature's survival can result in learning many life lessons
such as patience, kindness and attentiveness as well as responsibility,
discipline and respect for the animal. In addition, children
acquire and develop social skills that they will use throughout their
life. They learn to treat their pet kindly and this will be
reflected in the way that they treat people and the relationships that
they have with others.
|Feeding the cat, talking to the
parrot or just playing with the animal can serve as fun times for the
kids and replace television and video games. Walking or running
with a dog is exercise and helps to promote good health.
Children can learn many life lessons
from their animals. They learn loyalty, love and comfort from
their interaction with their pet. In addition, they can learn
about birth, illness, death and mourning and how to cope with each
emotion. For many children especially those without siblings
animals become their best friend. They are comforted by the pet
being there with them.
Remember that children are children
and that you as the parent will be taking on a major commitment that in
many cases spans a number of years. You may be caring for an animal
after your children leave for college! It is like having a
baby all over again only this time it does not grow up and become more
independent. So before you purchase the pet make sure you are
prepared for the commitment. The last thing that you want to do is
bring a pet into the household and have the children become attached and
then have to get rid of it. Once that animal enters your home it
becomes part of the family!
As the role model for your children you should discuss how the family
will share the responsibilities of caring for the new pet. Maybe
even make a chart that displays the responsibility and the person in
charge. This will help to keep the disagreements to a minimum and care
giving to a maximum. Remember that pets deserve our time and love
everyday and if this does not fit your lifestyle then maybe you should
not own a pet.
Guidelines for age-appropriate pets as suggested by the ASPCA:
||At this age you
should not bring in a new pet however you must introduce the
baby to current pets.
|Age 3 - 5
||A great pet for this
age is a guinea pig. They do not mind being held.
Young children can help with their care by filling a water
bottle or placing food in the dish. All activities
must still be supervised by an adult.
|Age 5 - 10
||At this age good pets
are hermit crabs, fish, hamsters or gerbils. The kids
are capable of cleaning out the cages/tanks and can make
sure they are fed.
|Age 10- 13
||This is the right age
to consider a dog, cat or rabbit. The children are old
enough to help with feeding, grooming, walking and cleaning
the animal. In addition, they can participate in the
training the animals.
|Age 14- 17
||Birds and aquariums
are a good choice for this age group basically because the
extra-curricular activities keep them out of the house for a
great deal of time.
Another tip in
choosing a pet is to make sure the pet and the child meet before a
pet is brought home. This will help determine what animal your child
is most comfortable with and may also let you know if there is a
potential allergy problem.
another good tip is to use collars
PetSafe for training and to instill
good behavior in your dog.
Selecting a Dog Breed....
It is important to spend some time
researching the type of dog that will fit your lifestyle. Make a
list of the traits that you are looking for in a dog. There are
many internet sites that contain this type of information. Some
questions that you should consider having answered about the breed are
|Does the dog need a
lot of exercise?
|How is the breed with
|What is the cost?
|Does the breed have
any known health conditions?
|How large with the
|How often does the
dog need to be groomed?
|Is the dog a barker?
|What is the
disposition of the dog -- calm or hyper?
|Is there a breeder
that is local to your home?