If you are a parent then one day you will likely hear these words Mommy, Daddy can we get a puppy or kitty? Children can be very persisted so instead of saying no right away and playing they ask why and you say I said so game. Tell your child you will think it over, and then do just that.

Having a pet can teach your children a great deal about responsibility; however, pets can become a burden if not carefully planned for. Someone will have to feed, walk, bathe, and clean up after the pet. There may be more housework involved like vacuuming cat or dog hair off the couch and floors. It may start off as your children caring for the pet and then they lose interest and you end up taking over. You need to factor in this possibility beforehand.

It’s not fair to get an animal and a few months down the road get rid of it, it’s better to let that animal go to another family who is prepared. If you don’t have the time or do not want the added responsibly if your child stops feeding then don’t get the pet. One way to motivate your child to continue to care for the pet is with awards and treats as you would their allowance or chores.

Before saying yes to a cat or dog you must also take in consideration the cost involved in owning a pet, for example not only will you need food, bedding, grooming tools (and possibly trips to the groomer depending on breed) but your pet will need shots, licenses and pet insurance.

If you get a puppy you will need to potty train your dog, which may take several weeks, that is the beauty of cats they go to the litter box, but litter boxes need to be cleaned consistently. Obedience training is something else you should think over if you choose a puppy, an ill-mannered dog can put a huge strain on the family.

If you say yes, do a research

Do a lot of research first there are some breeds that make better family pets than others. Always check with your local animal shelter first they may have the dog or cat you are looking for. If you are looking for a breed-specific dog or cat check to see if you have a local rescue shelter nearby. Often these facilities have adopted pet counseling and can help you choose the right pet for your family.

Once you have decided on the breed when you go out to see the potential new family member bring the whole family so everyone can interact with the new pet. Also, bear in mind that a dog or cat can live several years if properly cared for.

If you say no, explain why

If you decide not to get a pet, explain to your child why. If your lifestyle is too busy to include a pet at the time, for example, you have a new baby they demand a lot of time when they are little. Perhaps you can get a pet later when the baby is a bit older and doesn’t require around the clock care.

If you feel your child is not responsible enough yet then give them a chance to learn accountability another way and work towards one day having a pet of their own.

Useful Links

Read “Is Your Child Ready for a Pet” on HuffingtonPost.com