Is your child ready to own a hamster or guinea pig? While some parents may treat these animals as test pets to determine if the child is ready for a dog or cat, these animals deserve the same level of care and respect that a dog or cat would receive. This means making absolutely sure that your child is ready for the responsibility. Whether that means giving your child a chance to care for a loaner pet or considering the time your child has to devote to a pet, you can make the best decision for your family and the pet.
Look at Other Areas of Responsibility
Does your child finish her chores or homework without being hounded? It may seem strange to look at these areas when considering a pet, but these areas can say a lot about your child. If your child completes mundane tasks without being reminded over and over again, she’ll be more apt to clean out her pet’s cage and do other mundane pet care activities. Remember, having a pet isn’t all fun and games. There are a lot of steps that children will not like doing.
Determine If Your Child Is Willing to Learn
Before getting a new pet it’s always a good idea to sit down and learn as much as possible about the pet. See if your child is interested in learning about the pet they’ve been asking for. Read books to your child about caring for the animal and ask the child questions to see if she understands or has been listening. If your child seems excited, move onto the next step, which is taking care of someone else’s animal.
Give Your Child the Chance to Care for Someone Else’s Pet
If you know someone who already has a hamster or guinea pig, ask to take care of it for the weekend. This gives you a chance to see how your child reacts to caring for the animal. If your child is okay with cleaning, feeding, and handling the animal, it’s a great sign than that she’ll take care of her own pet. Before doing this step, be prepared to have to take care of the animal on your own. You may find that your child doesn’t want to do any of the work involved with caring for the pet.
Consider the Time Your Child Has Available
Last, but not least, your child may have the best intentions at heart. She may be great at cleaning up after animals and feeding them, but does she have the time to do so on a regular basis? If your child already has a number of responsibilities, such as dance class or sports, she may not have the time to be a responsible pet owner.
Pets can be a lot of fun, but some children just aren’t ready for the responsibility of owning a pet; and even if they are, you need to be ready for the responsibility of vet bills and PetSupplies. Take the time to truly make sure your child is ready before getting a pet. This will prevent the need to rehome the pet at a later date.