Adding a pet to your family is a big decision and you should act with your head, as well as your heart. If your family is thinking about getting a pet, consider these important points:
- Ask yourself and your family why they want a pet.
Discuss their likes and dislikes, so you don't accidentally come home with a pet that frightens them. Don't forget that your pet could be with you for 10 to 20 years.
- If you are getting a pet for your child, it is unrealistic to expect the child to do all the work.
No matter how mature your child is, you will need to provide constant supervision and act as a backup when your child is unable to handle the responsibility. Technically the dog is your responsibility till the child turns 18 years of age.
- Make sure your family is ready for the changes an animal will bring into your home.
Puppies need a lot of attention and training; they can end up chewing household items, and do not remain small for long. Young animals have needle-sharp nails and milk teeth that can hurt youngsters by accident.
- Learn which type of dog breed would best suit you and your family.
Some breeds are naturally more bossy or high strung than others. Breeds like Labradors or Golden Retrievers are known to be more even tempered and do better with children. Most toy-sized and touch/noise-sensitive dogs are not suitable for young children
- Teach your family and kids about the pet before adopting.
Educate yourself and your kids through reading books about pet care. Walking a dog several times a day, cleaning up feces, feeding and bathing a pet are all part of the ongoing family responsibilities of caring for animal.
- Young Puppies and children may not mix well.
Very young children may unwittingly mishandle or hurt a puppy or kitten, which is particularly vulnerable to being pulled at, dropped, or picked up inappropriately.
- Make sure no one in your family has allergies.
If you are unsure about your children, have them spend time (several hours minimum) in the home of pet-owning friends before bringing home a dog or cat.
- Make sure the pet suits your home and lifestyle.
Dogs require daily exercise and attention, and the size of the dog should be considered, since a large active dog may not be appropriate for a small apartment. Remember, thinking before adopting will save the animal from being returned to the shelter and will offer the pet and family a long and satisfying life together.