Have a Pet

Have a Pet

The majority of children demand, one day or another, an animal from their parents, most often a dog or a cat. Despite your desire to please your child, it is better to think seriously before adopting a pet. This decision is not made on a whim or on a whim. Here are the important things to consider before adopting a pet.

What are the benefits for children of having a pet?

The presence of a dog or a cat at home, for example, can stimulate a baby’s gross motor skills, because he may want to follow his animal when it moves. Similarly https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3xRAOImm78the toddler exercises his language when he calls his animal and talks to it.

From the age of 2, the child can have fun with a cat or a dog under the close supervision of an adult. These animals can therefore become an interesting play partner. For example, toddlers can have fun running errands with their dog or playing with their cat using an appropriate and safe toy.

The animal can also become the main confidant of the child in difficult or very happy times. It is to him that he will surrender his sorrows as much as his joys.

The interactions that a toddler has with his pet are also an important source of learning. Indeed, the child must learn to approach and gently caress his animal and to respect it. Unlike a stuffed animal, a live animal does not always want to play when the child wants. If a toddler pulls his cat’s tail, the cat will let him know he doesn’t like it. Likewise, his dog will make it clear to him that he does not want to be disturbed when he eats.

Role of the parent to protect his child
As a parent, it is necessary to listen to the animal, not only to accompany the child in his learning, but also to avoid unfortunate incidents. For the child, understanding the body language of the animal and being able to decode its signs of irritation helps to prevent possible incidents (eg bites, scratches).

From 5 years

At this age, the presence of an animal in the home can also provide an opportunity to discuss often delicate subjects such as death or illness . The loss of a pet is often a child’s first contact with death. A health problem for your animal is also an opportunity to explain to it the importance of taking good care of a living being that is dear to us. This notion of respect for others and for all living things (animals, plants, etc.) can then be taught.

Having a pet also allows children of this age to have small responsibilities. Even if they are too young to take care of it on their own, they can start to participate in certain tasks related to their pet: checking if there is water left and helping you to bring some, helping you to feed it , brush it gently, etc.

Adopting an animal, a long-term responsibility

Adopting a pet requires a long-term commitment, because you have to take care of it at all times, whether to feed it, take it out, brush it, take it to the veterinarian, have it looked after during an absence prolonged, etc. It is a living being that cannot be treated like a toy that we put aside when it no longer interests us. He becomes a new member of the family.

It is therefore necessary to discuss the adoption of a pet in a realistic way, that is to say in a positive way while considering the potential constraints. For example, you can make a list with your child of the advantages and disadvantages of adopting a particular species of animal. You should also ask yourself if now is the best time to adopt a pet.

This exercise allows your child to understand what is taken into consideration in the decision to adopt or not an animal. Thus, your child will be able to better understand the reasons for a refusal if he participated in the reflection process.

A little chick for Easter?
On the occasion of Easter, it is preferable to offer a chocolate or stuffed chick, rather than a live chick. Indeed, chicks are not animals that can be kept at home for a long time, nor can they become playmates like a dog or a cat. Rabbits can sometimes become longer-term companions, but knowing their needs and care is essential.

From what age can a child take care of his pet?

Never leave a child unattended with an animal. The age of the child and the size of the animal are factors to consider, but in all cases, caution is advised.

To convince you to adopt an animal, your child will probably promise to take care of it himself 100%. Even if they can participate in the preparation of the animal’s meals and help with its grooming, young children cannot fully assume the responsibility, despite the sincerity of their promises.

Caring for others, respecting their commitments and assuming their responsibilities are lessons learned at school age. Although these notions can be shown to a child of 4 or 5 years old, he will not be able to fully apply them before the age of 9 or 10 years old. It is important to know this before adopting an animal, because a large part of the responsibility will inevitably fall on you.

When possible, it is advisable that your child participate in the education of your new animal, including dogs and cats. These interactions must be done in an adequate manner, in particular by using positive reinforcement methods. This approach promotes the development of a healthy, lasting relationship based on trust.

Which pet to choose for your child?

If you decide to grant your child’s request, it is important to choose the animal carefully. Several factors are also to be taken into account to find the animal that suits you and who will be the happiest in your home in the presence of your child. First assess your lifestyle, the organization of your days, your availability to educate the animal and meet its needs, as well as the time you can devote to accompanying your child with his new companion.

Then, it is recommended to take into account the following elements  : species preferences (cat, dog, exotic animal, etc.), characteristics of the animal (active dog or homebody, indoor or outdoor cat) , the presence of disease in certain occupants of the house (allergies, asthma , immunosuppressed person, etc.) and the space you have.

Your reflection must also take into consideration the fact that having a pet generates different expenses. In addition to the initial cost of the animal, you must take into account the costs related to its food, maintenance products (eg litter, brushes, toys) and visits to the veterinarian (vaccines and other care). If you choose to adopt a dog or a cat, you must also plan for the costs associated with the mandatory purchase of a municipal license as well as grooming fees depending on the breed of your cat or dog. For a dog, training courses may also be necessary.

Dogs: what you need to know

Some dogs don’t like being home alone all day when their owners are working. Others need to exercise more and enjoy more space. Some dogs are less suited to the small spaces of an apartment.

Cats: what you need to know

A cat requires less care than a dog, but it tends to leave its hair on everything it touches. The cat has a more independent temperament and requires a little less attention than a dog. Some cats retain a well-developed predatory instinct and it may be more difficult to accustom them to staying indoors and not bringing prey near the house.

Birds and fish: what you need to know

A parakeet, a finch, a canary or goldfish can be a happy compromise. Some larger birds, such as parrots, can make great companions, but they require more care. Keep in mind that they can live for many years, ie 15 years, and sometimes up to 80 years.

Some of these birds can transmit bacteria that cause psittacosis, the symptoms of which resemble the flu. Generally mild, this disease can nevertheless lead to pulmonary complications such as pneumonia .

Rabbits, ferrets, rats, hamsters and guinea pigs: what you need to know

This category of “new pets” is an interesting option and can satisfy the desire to have a pet at home with children. The pet rat is probably the easiest animal as a first animal experience for families, because it is very intelligent, very clean and does not bite, unlike the hamster. Moreover, we must not confuse pet rats and sewer rats, because they are very different, like dogs and wolves, for example.

However, it remains essential to take the time to inform yourself about the specific needs of each species. They are not small dogs or small cats. It is necessary to know the care to be provided in order to ensure their health and well-being.

As with other animals, very young children should not be left alone with them, as some may bite or scratch. The usual precautions are required to avoid incidents.

Reptiles and turtles: what you need to know

Reptiles are another possibility, especially for people with allergies to other animals. However, the conditions for keeping and caring for these animals are quite complex. It is therefore necessary to be well prepared to welcome them and take care of them adequately. Not to be considered first choice if you have young children.

Basic hygiene rules (e.g. washing hands with soapy water after handling, keeping accessories away from the dining room, not kissing your reptile) are important since these animals are sometimes carriers of bacteria such as salmonella, which can cause health problems in humans. This is an opportunity to teach or remind children of the importance of washing their hands well and not putting their fingers in their mouths.