When your child has their heart set on a pet, it can be all they talk about, making it difficult for parents to say no. If you have a good reason for not wanting an animal in your home, such as allergies, a lack of time or not wanting to be stuck with the animal when your child gets bored of it, then it’s important that you stick to your guns.
Read on for some suggestions about what to do, rather than getting a pet that you’re not keen on and will ultimately end up looking after once your child gets bored of it or goes to university.
1. Encourage your child to learn about animals
Take your kids to the library so they can borrow books about caring for the pet that they’d like. They can also use the internet to research the needs of different pets, learning about where they originate from and how they live in the wild and in captivity. It’s great that they have an interest, so use it to foster leaning with the promise that you’ll discuss pet ownership once they know all the ins and outs.
2. Get a digital pet
Virtual pets have come on leaps and bounds since when we had Tamagotchis in the 90s. Today’s digi-pets are almost as good as the real thing and are a great way to encourage kids to be responsible for feeding and looking after an animal. One key benefit of a robot dog toy over a real dog, is that you won’t have to deal with the poos!
3. Borrow a pet
Do any of your friends or family members have pets? You could offer to look after them for a few days while they go on holiday. Pet owners often struggle with finding places for their pets when they go away, so your offer will likely be welcomed with gusto.
4. Visit a petting zoo
Zoos and farm parks that allow hands-on interaction with animals can be great fun for kids of all ages. Little animal lovers will likely want to visit regularly, so perhaps you could compromise with an annual zoo pass rather than owning an animal.
5. Sign them up as volunteers
If your kids are old enough, you could ask that they enlist to help at an animal shelter, stables or farm as a volunteer for three months to show their commitment. A volunteer’s main job is often mucking out cages and pens, which might be enough to convince your chid that pet ownership isn’t all fun and games.
6. Ask for proof of commitment
When it comes to owning a dog, finding the time to take your pooch for walks in all weathers is often the hardest part. If your child is old enough to walk a dog unaccompanied, insist that they take an empty dog lead for a walk for thirty minutes every day, in all weathers. If they can rise to the challenge, you’ll know that they’re committed.
7. Compromise on the type of pet
Your son or daughter might have their heart set on a kitten, but might you be able to adopt an elderly cat from a shelter instead? If they want a rabbit, how about something less hands-on, like a fish or a small snake? If they’re willing to compromise, maybe you could find a solution in a pet that won’t live as long and won’t have all the energy and training needs of a younger animal.
8. Just say no
At the end of the day, you’re the adult and it’s okay to say no! Explain to your child that it’s your house and your rules and that they can have any pet that they want once they live on their own.
If your child wants a pet and you don’t, I hope that you’ll find some of these suggestions helpful. Every family is different and so the right solution to the dilemma will have much to do with your kid’s age and personality. Whatever you decide, be sure to take the time to listed to their reasons and encourage them to turn their passion into a positive, even if they can’t have a pet just yet.