Is Your Child Ready For Pets? #archivedpost

Original post from July, 2013
I hadn't even considered the idea that we might have to factor allergies into the equation. We ended up having allergic reactions from our 4 day visit and it was a good trial run. We excluded guinea pigs from our pet list and went with a fish tank instead.
Gus spent the long weekend with us as a trial run for getting our own guinea pig.
Most children like animals, our Princess Destructo has been acquainted with Gus the Guinea Pig at our local Early Years Center for the last year and talks about him often between visits. When they needed someone to take care of him for the long weekend I offered to bring him home. Since we have been considering getting a small pet of our own I thought this would be a great chance to see how Princess handled the excitement of having a small animal in the house.  I wondered if our three year old would have a hard time keeping her fingers out of the cage.  Here are a few tips for deciding if pets are a good idea for your family, and a few benefits to caring for small animals.

Getting a pet should be a shared decision since it should be a shared responsibility for the whole family.  The main question I have to ask myself- Do we would have time to care for another living creature? I knew I would be doing most of the care (cage cleaning, grooming, etc.) and am already working full time and caring for a family of three plus an elderly cat.  Also, I have to consider travel plans this summer. Will I be able to find someone to take care of a guinea pig as well as the cat?

A good way to see how your child will behave around animals is to spend time with other peoples pets to judge wisely.   Young children have a hard time with containing their excitement and with staying within behavioural limits consistently.  The visit with Gus went well, but did I really want to spend the next year asking her to keep her fingers out of the cage if we had a guinea pig full time? Or to remind her to hold him gently when he had freedom on a towel. 

Caring for living creatures can help establish a feeling of responsibility and build confidence.  Princess helped me fill Gus' water bottle and feed kibble and veggies twice a day. She showed pride in her efforts, "Mommy, I'm a good zoo keeper! I'll help him be big and strong."

Our four days with Gus were filled with cuteness and continued desire for a guinea pig of our own.  I haven't ruled out getting a guinea pig yet, but with a few big family transitions coming in the next 6-8 weeks we will definitely have to wait on adding another fur-baby to our home.

How are your children with pets?


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