Teaching children the responsibility of caring for pets – Part 10

You find yourself faced with two adorable faces, both with pleading eyes, begging you to say yes. One is the furry critter in the pet store that your child has been cuddling and the other is that of your child, anxious to take home their new pet.

Hopefully, you’ve taken the steps to teach your children the responsibility that comes with bringing a pet into the family. Pet parenting is a long term commitment. Pet grandparenting is too! As the parent of a young child, you are ultimately responsible for the care of the new family pet. Your child, however, will be learning a lot of responsibility taking care of their new pet and the reward is well worth the work.

We all love those puppy kisses, kitten purrs and the sarcastic voice of the parrot that asks you what you are doing when you walk by. Pets offer so much unconditional love, sloppy affection (in the form of slobbery kisses) and fun companionship, it isn’t surprising your child is wanting a pet brought into your family.

The cost of pet supplies, pet food and eventual vet bills are not concerns for your child. You, as the parent and responsible adult, should have a budget in mind before bringing home the new pet. A turtle that costs less than $20 in the pet store can cost over $200 to get their enclosure set up and much more in the future when they are grown.

Before going out to adopt the new family pet, there are a number of things to consider and to discuss with your child. Let’s take a look at a checklist and discussion topics.

1. What kind of pet? Agreeing to get a puppy can mean adopting a free mixed breed puppy or investing over $1000 for a champion bloodline full bred. Let’s start with deciding on what pet we are talking about.

2. What type of enclosure will the pet need? What supplies? What is the budget for the initial purchases?

3. Who will be the primary caretaker of the pet? Who will clean the cage or carrier? Who will feed and water the pet?

4. What are the needs of the pet? Reptilesrequire certain lighting and heating conditions to digest food. Some only eat live food. If you’ve chosen a terrier puppy, you’ll need to consider the energy level of the puppy. How often will it get to play outside? Who will be responsible for pet playtime?

5. What are the rules for the pet? Can the puppy sleep in the bed? Can he have the run of the house or will he be crated when no one is home?

Teaching the child the responsibility of caring for their pet starts with the discussion and research that is conducted prior to bringing the pet home. Children must have reinforcement. They must be reminded to feed and water the pet. The care of the pet must be overseen by an adult. Theseare all steps in molding your child to be a responsible pet parent.

Add the pet’s care to your child’s chore list. Put them on the reward system. When they have taken care of their pet every day for the week, they get something special at the end of the week. Reward positive behavior.

Taking these steps will ensure a happy pet and a happy child. Now you have two faces looking excitedly at you, thankful you’ve said yes and the pet adoption is taking place. Welcome to the happy and rewarding world of mixed families. Human and Animal.

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