Thinking about a family pet? 4 questions to ask yourself first
When you're in the midst of child-rearing madness taking on the responsibility of a pet can be the last thing you want or need. But if you are considering another family member make sure you've asked yourself some serious questions before you take the plunge...
Walking a dog, cleaning fish tanks, tending to crying kittens, and constantly being on garden poo-patrol can be a challenge as a busy parent - particularly if you have young children. Even though parents often get landed with the bulk of the animal care, having a family pet can encourage your child’s social skills, self-esteem, and sense of responsibility. Pets also make great companions for particularly anxious or shy children and can coax them out of their shell a little bit.
Although many of us have fond memories of our own beloved childhood companions, having a pet requires a lot of hard work and time so it's worth thinking about whether or not it is the right time for your family to introduce a new member and what type of creature would suit your brood.
1. Are you ready for a pet?
All children swear they will feed, wash and clean up after their pet at the beginning but these promises quickly evaporate into thin air. You have to bear in mind that you will most likely be landed with the majority of responsibilities because, let's face it, kids aren't going to get up in the middle of the night to let a whining dog outside to pee. If you and your partner are working long hours you have to think about whether or not you are okay with leaving a pet at home in an empty house most days of the week. Pets are also a long term expense so make sure you can afford having another mouth to feed.
2. Do you have room for a pet?
If you are living in an apartment it's not fair to introduce a large dog into your home. Dogs in particular need a lot of space and if you are thinking of having a dog in a smaller home you need to be willing to invest a lot of time into walking them. Small homes can often become really crowded and it is not just the pet you are introducing; accessories like dog beds, bowls and cages, all take up space too. Consider your neighbours and remember that a loud barking pooch might not be very nice to live above, below, or beside.
3. What pet is right for you?
Cats and dogs are probably not the best option for you if you are living in an apartment or a house with a small garden. Consider smaller pets like hamsters or rabbits, which are quite affordable and easy to manage. Pups and kittens are not advisable around wobblers and toddlers either as an annoyed pet could easily snap or scratch your baby. If your little ones are under five you could purchase some gold fish, which are a gateway pet so to speak, and very low maintenance. If you have a large garden a few rambling hens are always fun and your children will love collecting eggs every afternoon.
It comes as no surprise that Ireland's most popular pet is the dog but it is important that you research different breeds thoroughly and find out which breeds are good with kids.
4. Have you considered fostering an animal?
Foster care is an opportunity to care for an animal that's not ready for adoption yet. It's a great alternative for animal lovers who can't make a long-term commitment, but still want to help animals. The DSPCA have some great information here if you think you could provide an animal with a temporary home.
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