- Tip #1
If your child asks for a pet and you're up for the challenge, consider: What type of pet is right for your family? Is your child old enough to help care for a pet? Can she be careful and gentle with animals? Spend some time observing her with a friend or relative's pet.
- Tip #2
Before getting a pet, talk to your child about what it means to care for an animal. Explain that it needs food, water, exercise, and love. Together, decide on at least one thing your child can do to help, such as pouring food into its bowl or gently brushing its fur.
- Tip #3
Explain to your child that part of being responsible for a pet means paying attention to how it's feeling and what it needs. Ask your child what he thinks your pet is saying when it wags its tail, hides, or makes a noise. Why does he think so?
- Tip #4
Encourage your child to walk slowly and speak softly around animals. Teach him to pet gently. Make sure he knows not to pet strange animals without permission and to leave a pet alone if it is eating, sleeping, or chewing on something.
- Tip #5
Having a positive relationship with a pet is good practice for forming strong bonds later in life. A pet can be a friend to share happy thoughts with or to confide in when your child is feeling sad or afraid. Encourage her to communicate and play with her pet.
- Tip #6
Tell your child that pets go to special doctors called veterinarians. Take your child along on your pet's next visit to the vet. If your pet is nervous, encourage your child to comfort it. Talk to your child about a time he went to the doctor and how he felt.
- Tip #7
Having a pet is a great reason to learn about animals! Find a website or a book about your type of pet and study up with your child. Then observe your pet together. Do you notice anything you didn't before?