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At What Age Should I Get My Child a Pet?

Updated on June 27, 2008

Getting a Pet

Well, to start this off, I want to make note that I am not a parent and I do not have children. I am merely writing this in reflection to my hub "How Do I Convince My Parents I'm Ready for a Puppy," so if you have any other suggestions that I should add to this page, please feel free to leave me a comment at the end of this hub.

As for getting your child a pet, especially if s/he is asking for you, you're going to have to evaluate your child. There's nothing that you'll ever read that says that at a certain age you should get every boy and girl a pet, as not even a specialist can tell you what you should do when parenting your child... I mean, it is your child, right?

But, if you think about it, it can really be an irritant to any parent's life, "Mommy/Daddy can I get a dog (hamster, gerbil, guinea pig, snake, gecko, cat, etc)." Whatever the pet, the question being repeatedly asked over and over again can be irritating, yes?

So what do you do? Do you give in and get the pet in question, or do you stick to your guns and say, "No." Again, no one can tell you what to do, but I'm going to try to help you make the decision either way.

Remember that there's no set age that you can go by; where your neighbor's child was ready for a pet at 8 years old, your child may not be, so take into account the following suggestions and ideas.

by thejesse
by thejesse

Responsibility

Every child has a different responsibility level, no matter his age. You want to take into account your child's responsibility level before you bring home a pet.

If you're wanting a family pet that everyone in the house will take part in raising and caring for, then that means your child will need to have some basic responsibilities with the pet.

If you're child is the only one who wants the particular pet, then that means he's going to be taking sole responsibility, of course with your monitoring, as you're still the adult in the house.

Consider whether your child...

  • Takes care of his chores in a timely manner, preferably without too many complaints.
  • Helps out around the house when not asked.

These are simple, but pretty good estimates as to whether your child is ready for his own pet.

Now, if you're ready to take on the responsibility of walking the new puppy at all hours of the day and night or cleaning the guinea pig's cage every week, then your child's responsibility level really won't matter since you're already planning on taking care of the pet.

Scheduling

Consider your daily schedule and your child's, especially if you have an older child. If you work all day and come home and have to get dinner ready and help your child(ren) with homework, you will probably be too busy to take care of a new dog or other pet that requires more care and time.

If you're child is in school during the day, but has afterschool and weekend activities, this schedule isn't going to change when you get a pet, so that means the responsibility falls back on your to care for the pet.

Experience Level and Basic Research

You never want to purchase a pet on a whim. You want to make sure that you know how to care for the pet before you bring one home. You want to make sure that you have the skills and ability to take care of a particular pet.

I mean if you've never had a pet reptile, you probably don't want to start with an iguana. Yes, that baby iguana is probably really cute at the pet store, they do reach up to 6 feet in length. You don't even want to start with a chameleon, as they have a more complicated husbandry and care regimen than so many other reptiles on the market.

You don't want to bring home that cute bunny at the flea market if you don't have the supplies or the know how.

You want to make sure that you do research before you bring home a pet, whether it be a family pet or a pet that your child will be the sole caretaker. You want to make sure that can really care for the pet before you bring it home, and the pet does not have the right husbandry or environment.

When you bring home a new pet, you want to make sure that you give the animal the life that it requires, so buy a book and read several care sheets before you decide what type of pet will be best for you and/or your child to care for.

by NotMarkAgain
by NotMarkAgain

Generally Speaking

Pets can teach your child many things, and they can be a great asset to child development, but before you bring home a pet, you want to make sure that your child is truly ready for the animal, and you want to make sure that you and your child know how to care for the animal.

Pets can help children gain responsibility, which is pretty much the conclusion of many professionals, but remember that your child needs enough responsibility to help take care of a family pet, much less if he's asking for a pet that you would rather not have, as you already have so much on your plate.

If you're really looking for an age that you should get your child a pet, generally, if your child is in school (around 6 years old), he can probably help you care for a pet.

Getting a new pet can be a wonderful learning experience, as you will have the opportunity to teach your younger child about caring for animals and how to behave around and towards animals. And remember, you will be teaching and monitoring the care of the pet; you cannot leave a child of any age at the sole responsibility of caring for an animal.

Comments

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    • profile image

      gracie 

      7 years ago

      My parents won't let me have a little dog at all cause I want one to sit around with and cuddle with i'm 11 years old and all of my friends and younger friends have pets of there own and some of them r never even home accept on the weekends sometimes and I want a dashand and I know where I can get one for under a $200 in Alabama it isn't fair; I THINK KIDS CAN START TO HAVE DOGS OR OTHER PETS BY 8 AT LEAST 10 YEARS OLD!!!!!!! So when your kids or kid is begging see if u got some low priced full blooded dogs or other pets or go to a shelter or pound even a pet store all can have go breeds or even mutts that want and need a good loving home so go give in and just look plz so many dogs don't have to be put down or even killed in dog fight or strays that can get hit by a car. SHOW THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU AND THE WORLD THAT YOU OR YOUR WHOLE FAMILY CARES....!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • J_Eds profile image

      J_Eds 

      10 years ago from Blackpool

      All very relevent :)

    • Whitney05 profile imageAUTHOR

      Whitney 

      10 years ago from Georgia

      Thank you Hein

      PlayaNorte, that is true. I actually mentioned this in the hub that as the adult, the parent should always oversea that the child is properly caring for the pet. I also mentioned how having a pet will help gain responsibility as well as be an overall learning experience, but the child should have some degree to begin with.

    • PlayaNorte profile image

      PlayaNorte 

      10 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      great insights, i read something once that said parents should not expect young children to take full responsibility for pets but to use it as a learing experience. Its great if the kids can help out but they shouldn't be expected to do everything since they are still growing up themselves

    • Hein Marais profile image

      Hein Marais 

      10 years ago from Ireland

      Great Hub. Keep on creating.

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