As a parent, it’s sometimes hard to know exactly when your child is ready for the responsibility of caring for a pet. Of course, kids aren’t expected to take care of a dog all on their own, but they should share in the responsibility. There are some key clues to look for to know if your child is to start caring for a dog.
How to Know If Your Child Is Ready for a Dog
There are many times where your child might see a cute puppy on the street or at a friend’s house and ask for a dog. How are you going to know if your child is ready for a dog? Here are some indicators:
Your Child Gets Along with Animals
The main reason to get a dog for your child is because they like dogs. This should be obvious. On the other hand, if your child shies away from dogs or is a little too aggressive with a dog, they might not be ready to help care for a dog.
Try bringing your child around friends or family who already have dogs and watch how your child interacts with the dog. If they have a gentle touch and want to spend time with the dog, it shows that they are somewhat interested.
Your Child Can Clean Up After Themselves
If your child is mindful of their mess and role within the household, this shows that they are ready for a dog. For better or worse, most children are pretty self-centered. It’s not until their brain develops a bit more that they are able to consider other people (and pets).
If you’ve been teaching your child that they need help keep their area clean and they are listening, they might be ready for more responsibility.
Your Child Completes Household Tasks
Another good indicator that your child is ready for a dog is when they take on household responsibilities. Once your child can see the value of doing things for other people, it only makes sense that they would see the value in helping an animal. And once your child finds out how wonderful a dog can be, they’ll likely be excited to help with caregiving.
Your Child Is Full of Energy
A lot of families have a child who seems to never stop moving. Some kids will spend all day in the backyard playing or at the park climbing. If this is your child, you might be looking for something to focus their energy on.
A dog is a big responsibility, but a dog can also be an outlet for your child’s seemingly endless energy.
Your Whole Family Is Willing to Help
Something that some parents don’t think about beforehand is that even if you buy a dog for your child, you are going to be the one doing most of the work. There’s no way your child will be able to be the dog’s main caretaker. Your child can participate in a lot of the dog’s chores, but remember that anything they can’t do (or anything your child forgets to do) is going to be your responsibility. There are also some tasks that your child shouldn’t be allowed to do depending on their age, such as bathing and walking.
If you are not prepared to care for a dog yourself, you might want to reconsider getting a dog “for your child.”
Signs Your Child is Not Ready for a Dog
Sometimes we want to think that our children are ready for more responsibility. In the case of getting a new dog, the new responsibility is a living, breathing creature. Take a look below at just a few signs that your child might not yet be ready for the responsibility.
Your Child Is Easily Distracted
A child with a lot of energy might find a great companion in an active dog, but the reverse can also be true. Some children cannot focus for long enough to actually care for another creature. Some children have difficulty working on a task until it is fully completed.
If your child has difficulty seeing tasks to their end, a dog might be too much responsibility at the moment.
Your Child Already Has A Busy Schedule
Some children have a full plate as it is. Sports, band, or tutoring might be activities that take up the majority of your child’s day. It’s great for children to be occupied with academic or athletic tasks, but if your child’s schedule is already full, they might not have the time to take care of a new dog.
You Are Already Planning for A Bigger Family
Again, a child will not be solely responsible for animals in your house. That responsibility is going to fall on the adults of the house. If you are still working on growing your household, it might not be a great idea to get a new dog.
It’s hard to know exactly how much work any child or pet will really be until you are living with them. A dog will be more work no matter what. A growing family can be chaotic as is. Therefore, be sure to consider if now is the right time to introduce a new pet into the mix.
Teaching Your Child to Care for a Pet
If you decide a dog is a good choice for your family, remember that caring for a pet is not always instinctual. You will need to teach your child how to care for a pet, how to establish a routine, and how to conduct basic obedience training. Lastly, don’t forget that dogs need lots of supplies as well. You’ll need:
- A leash
- A collar
- A crate
- Food and bowls
- Grooming supplies
- Lots of toys
These are the basics of any dog care, and if you take the time to teach both your child and the dog, their bond will be stronger.