When my son was 2-3 years old he was obsessed with dogs and cats. He would watch YouTube videos on them, check out books about dogs and cats at the library and get so excited every time a neighbors’ cat wandered into our yard. When this went on for quite a few months (almost a year), my husband and I started considering getting our first family pet.
However, we wanted to be really sure that the timing was right . We knew that if we adopted a pet into our home, we would want it to be a forever home (both for the sake of the pet as well as our family). So we came up with a few milestones that my son would have to reach before we would let him know that we could adopt a pet.
These are the 5 signs of readiness that we watched for before we would tell him that we could adopt a pet:
1. Understands how to have “gentle hands”- We wanted to be sure that our pet would be treated gently in our home, so we made sure that our son was able to understand the difference between being rough and gentle. We had him practice on his toy animals as well as the pets of family members to make sure he understood this.
2. Able to help feed the pet- I have always felt that it is important for my kids to have a role in feeding and caring for the pet. Not only does this teach them responsibility, but I also feel that it helps the pet to trust and bond with the child as he sees the child as the one who feeds him. Obviously at first we helped my son with the feeding and let him take over more and more of the process as he grew, but we did watch to make sure that he was able to handle some aspects of the process from the beginning.
3. Lasting interest- Kids can tend to be a little bit of a roller coaster of emotions when it comes to the things they want more than anything and then loose interest in. Adopting a pet is a huge commitment, so it’s important to make sure that it’s not a passing whim for the child. We have had our first pet “Tails” for 6 years now (I just counted that up, and can’t believe it’s been that long) and I have to say that my son still has the same love and excitement for him, as he did the day we adopted him!
4. Understands simple rules- With pets come rules. Rules that keep the pet safe and rules for how we have to act with the pet. It’s a good idea to have your child demonstrate in other ways that he is able to handle simple family rules before adopting a pet, otherwise it’s going to be a lot of extra work and stress for you as a parent and a lack of rules could harm the pet.
5. Has a steady routine- Pets love routine! Tails is ready and waiting for me to feed him and let him outside at the same time everyday (and he never gets the memo about weekends)! If your child is not on a great sleep schedule yet, is right in the middle of potty training, or if your normal routine is in the midst of some other kind of upheaval, it may be best to wait a little longer before adding a pet to the mix! You want to find a time when life is going “fairly” steadily so that you can get used to the routine of having a pet without a lot of other stresses going on.
By waiting for the right timing on all of these milestones, I felt that we adopted Tails into our home at the perfect time to make him a part of our family forever. He is a beloved member of the family and we can’t imagine life without him. He was an adoption pet, and I’m so glad that we have been able to provide him a good home, because he has provided us with so many years of love and affection.
If you feel that your child is ready to welcome your first pet into your home, I highly recommend adopting, and now is a great time to do it, because Petsmart wants to help you Find A Pet!
PetSmart Charities National Adoption Weekend is . This three-day adoption event, held four times every year, hosts a large selection of dogs and cats available for adoption in all participating PetSmart stores in North America. On average, more than 15,000 companion pets find their forever home during each National Adoption Weekend.
To check it out visit your local PetSmart store this weekend. There you will find animal welfare specialist including local humane societies, on-site at with adoptable dogs and cats during the event. Each group sets its own adoption application policies and fees (which typically include spay/neuter surgery, vaccination, microchips, etc.), so it will vary among stores. Staff and volunteers from each location will be onsite throughout the event to assist with questions and the adoption process.Your local store will be able to answer questions regarding exact event times and availability of specific types of pets. For more information and to find your nearest pet smart store, use the PetSmart Store Locator.
If you do adopt or have in the past be sure to share your adoption story here!