Pets for Children

When is a Child ready for a Pet?

3 to 7 years

Created by Bhavna
Updated on Dec 26, 2019

When is a Child ready for a Pet
Reviewed by Expert panel

My six-year-old daughter asked me if we could get a dog as a pet for her. My first reaction was “No”….. I saw the heartbreak on her face and that got me thinking if I had been too quick to take that call.

I know for sure that having a pet would benefits my daughter in many ways, she would may be learn to empathize with others, the unconditional love that she will get from the pet would help with her self esteem and since she will have to learn communication based on body language, it would in turn help her have a greater understanding of people.

I read a lot on the subject and got a broad picture. According to most of the experts, a child needs to be at least 6 years and above to have a pet since by then they develop enough self-control and can follow basic rules. I also realized that the demand for a pet in my house becomes more clamorous every time we visit any of our family, friends or relatives that have pets, but after a few days, my daughter forgets the idea and settles down to her normal routine, sans pet. This led me to believe that this might just be a case of “ Out of sight, out of mind”.

So after one such outing to a friend’s house when we came back home and the whole song about having a pet started I just had to sit her down and have a grown up conversation with her. I asked her if she would feed the dog / take it for its routine walks / take care of her pet; well she was so honest and so willing that it just melted my heart. I knew I just had to dig a little bit deeper to get to the real conclusion.

Finally when I came down to the financial implications of things like “ you will have to give half of the money from your piggy bank to pay for the immunization and the food”, she became a little reluctant to let go off her precious savings. We also discussed how we have a very small home and it would not be fair to the pet if we could not provide the pet its own space to run around and play. I explained to her that, just as we cared for her every need and made sure that she got all that she wanted for in life, so also we will have to make sure to treat our pet in the exact same way. She actually understood what I was trying to say and what it actually meant.

I also realized that no matter what she would have said, I was not ready to have another child (I would have treated a pet like my child, I know myself) , I just did not have the commitment or the energy to take on another responsibility and the sooner I accepted it the better off we both were. So together we decided that we would wait for some more time and revisit the topic at a later point and then only decide if we wanted a dog or not.

In the meanwhile though, to satisfy the urge to care, we have gotten ourselves a pair of Gold fish which are much easier to keep and demand much less from you. I have taken responsibility to clean the bowl while my daughters gives them food at stipulated intervals. This arrangement makes both of us happy and also allows us the fun of having pets!

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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| Aug 23, 2012

I was perhaps 4 yrs old when my parents brought home our first dog. Since then, with just a gap of 6 yrs in between, I have always had pets. Which is why when I got married, my husband and I wanted a dog even before we thought of having a baby. I strongly believe that children who grow up with pets at home are a lot more loving, compassionate, responsible and accommodating. To me, it was very important that when my baby is finally home, a pet should already be around. Today, at 2. 2 yrs, my daughter and my doggie son get along like a house on fire. They behave like siblings and I cannot describe the joy of watching them together. But a word of caution: pets are just like children. Only that mentally they do not grow up. They remain children forever. My request to parents is that do not get a pet unless you are 100% sure that you can handle the responsibility. But if you truly love animals and have grown up with a pet (I am an only child and my pets were like brothers or sisters to me), this wont seem like a responsibility at all! :)

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| Aug 23, 2012

Also, hygiene focus is a must for all parents with pets at home. Make simple rules, follow them, role model them so that your child enjoys his/her petting responsibly.

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| Oct 26, 2012

In our case, it was me who was not ready for a pet. I had to explain to him the work involved with having a pet at home and as of now I would be unable to handle the additional responsibility, thankfully my child understood, and may be in a few months time, we will reconsider the decision.

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| Dec 15, 2012

We got a pet when my daughter was 8 months old... just a stray kitten that was headed to the SPCA. Cats are a wonderful option if you feel that dog is too much of a responsibility... my daughter is now 7 and both of them have grown well together. tho of course the cats do not respond like dogs and do not shower you with love and affection, but my daughter has realized that and showers them instead :) if she can corner them. cats look after themselves, clean themselves. We have 2 cats now and both have been brought up on cat biscuits. even we are out of town for a few days, we can leave the cats at home with enough food and water to last them throughout our absence. One thing is certain, she loves animals, is not scared of them, has grown up to be a very affectionate child and wants to be a vet when she grows up :)

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