When your child wants a pet: how to tell if they are ready

Most parents have to deal with pleas for family pets each time their kids see dogs or spend time with rabbit-owning friends. And, if you’re anything like the majority, your answer when your child wants a pet is always ‘one day.’ After all, you’re well aware that jumping straight into a decision like this could see you with an unhappy pet in an unsuitable environment. Not to mention that all the responsibility will likely fall on you! But, as your kids get older, they may begin to ask a very valid question – when exactly is ‘one day?’ And, when they do, you may need to think about bringing your pet promise to fruition at last.

But, before you start browsing puppy pages or click here to invest in a rabbit hutch at last, you must take the time to consider whether your children are ready for this change. This can be tricky as there’s no ‘set’ age at when kids can take furry friends under their wings. But, if your child wants a pet you can at least make sure this is the right time for you by asking the following questions before going ahead. 

Is their interest consistent?

With a few exceptions, the majority of kids get mushy when there’s a pet in their vicinity. But, fleeting interest does not a good potential owner make. Instead, you should keep an eye out for continued interest that shows they’re committed. Ultimately, you want to see them researching their pet of choice in their own time and consistently bugging you about their desire. That way, you can be sure that this isn’t just a whim that’ll pass by even if you buckle and buy that pet after all.

Can they handle the responsibility?

Pets are particularly beneficial to youngsters thanks to the life lessons they impart, and responsibility is at the forefront. As such, you should always consider how well your child handles responsibility before bringing a furry friend home. If they currently keep up with chores, for instance, it’s a sure sign that they’re likely not to ‘forget’ to feed the hamster. By comparison, children who never keep up with the cleaning rota may need a few more years before this is right.

Are you willing to take on some care? 

You may be asking these questions so that you don’t end up lumped with animal duties, but it’s still vital to consider whether you’re ready for some level of involvement. Even the best child owners are often limited in what they can do and when. As such, responsibilities like solo walks will still fall to you, as will some daytime care when kids are at school. If you aren’t ready or willing to take this on, then it’s probably not the right time for a pet, after all. 

When your child wants a pet, you can never be certain that they are ready, but each of these questions can at least bring you one step closer to the right decision for your family, and your future pet.


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