Things to keep in mind before you get that puppy (pet) for the kids
14 Oct 2020 FAMILY
By: Natasha Archary
There are so many milestones in childhood that present parents with a brain-stumping conundrum. Whether or not it’s time to get a family pet is one of them. Before you give in to the sad eyes and moping faces, a family pet, more especially a puppy is not a decision to be made lightly.
Choosing a pet that’s a fit for your family
Cuteness aside, puppies, (and pets in general) are a lot of work and require time, patience, money, and an overwhelming amount of care and routine. Your child/ren may sound convincing about sharing the responsibility in the beginning or before you get the new furball but be warned, it’s usually a trap and you end up doing all the work by the end of the first month.
That’s when the novelty of cute wears down and it’s no longer fun, picking up after a puppy who’s not yet house trained. Or when walking puppy or keeping your furry friend active messes with screen-time.
This is why it’s important to choose a puppy or pet that specifically meets your family’s requirements. How much space will be needed once they’re fully grown? What will their food costs amount to every month? Will they need to be groomed regularly and professionally? How active is the pet I’m looking into? Where do I find this particular breed?
Where to start?
Research as much as you can. Find out all you can about the different breeds of dogs, cats, birds, fish, or whichever pet species you’re looking into welcoming into your family. Most dogs are very high maintenance and will require a dedicated training regimen. Large breeds need space and if you are not open to keeping them indoors, will need a kennel big enough outside.
There are breeds of dogs and cats that have underlying medical conditions and this is something to be mindful of when looking for the perfect fit. Don’t just make a choice based on which dog or cat is cute. Or the color of their eyes. Think about the long-term and whether your family will cope should a complication arise, and the pet will need to undergo surgery or be put down.
Work out the cost of food and other monthly expenses for a pet before deciding. Yes, the lifetime companionship value far outweighs any monetary contributions, but in the event of financial strain, will your pet’s needs be met? Consider a pet medical aid, in the event of emergencies or monthly check-ups. Vet-care can be pricy and their health must be a priority.
Finding a breeder
Now that you’ve weighed all the pros and cons, you’ll need to find the perfect new addition to the family. Before you look at a breeder and pedigree (thoroughbred) pups, do consider adopting a puppy from a shelter such as the SPCA or puppy havens.
If you’re looking for a particular type of puppy due to allergies or space restrictions, then understandably a breeder will be the best bet. They ensure that puppies are bred in a safe environment and are given the utmost care from birth until they arrive home with you.
Your breeder will also issue you with a full medical history of the puppy as well as the parents, so you have peace of mind about any pre-existing conditions within the lineage of puppy.
For other pets, a reputable pet store will be recommended. You’ll be able to ask for advice, find all you need for your pet and you should leave with the confidence that you can take care of your furry or winged friend.
Kids and pets
It’s a life-long bond that trumps all else. Having your child/ren grow with your pet is a special connection to watch and encourage. Studies show that children who have a pet in early childhood, are more likely to be considerate and empathetic towards others.
It’s important to give your child some of the responsibility with the pet, including feeding and cleaning of waters bowls, picking up after the pet, and daily walks. This will not only create a more independent little one but will also drive home the message that owning a pet is a full-time responsibility.
Most families get a pet and once the novelty wears off the poor pet is neglected and becomes just another accessory for spoiled children. This should never happen and if you are going to simply fail to provide a loving, fulfilling environment for the pet, do not get one, if you’re not ready.
Ensure your child is aware that the new pet is a living being, not a toy. What if they play too rough, and the pet gets hurt? They need to understand that their pet can get sick if not cared for. Your child’s engagement with your pet should be monitored until they are comfortable and capable to be left alone with them.
Pets can bring so much love and joy to your home, but they do require a fair amount of careful thought and planning. Hopefully, this has helped you make a more informed decision.