Your first family pet
posted : 24/May/2018
Introducing a pet into the family can be an exciting time for all involved. Choosing the right pet that suits your family and lifestyle is something that should be well thought out.
There are many wonderful things about owning a pet, especially if you have young children. Pets can teach kids responsibility and how to care for a living creature. Pets provide a valuable means of social interaction and can assist with children’s development and behaviour.
Family companions come in all different shapes, sizes and personalities such as; guinea pigs, birds, hermit crabs, fish and off course dogs and cats. Every pet requires a different amount of care and physical interaction.
When selecting the right pet, you need to consider your child's temperament and abilities. A preschooler or an older child who loves to throw balls and play is a great match for an energetic dog; a shy toddler may find comfort in stroking a calm cat; or a toddler who loves to watch rather than physically interact may enjoy watching a fish swimming in a contained environment. There is a pet out there that suits your family’s needs and environment, you just need to think about it and not make a rushed decision.
Introducing pets and children
When you first bring your family pet home, regardless of the size and species, there will be a settling in period. Those first interactions with your child and pet are important and they should be introduced in a calm and controlled environment.
First interactions can be done by holding the new pet securely in your arms, you can encourage your little one to sit on a chair when first meeting the new pet. You as the adult should always be in control of the new pet.
Sit next to your child with the new pet securely in your arms or hands. Ask your child to put their hand out and let the new pet say hello. Allow your child to softly pat or touch the new pet near the shoulder blades or on the back. Give lots of love, praise and rewards to both the new addition and your child for good behaviour.
Regardless of the type of pet you choose for your family, rules are a great way to ensure that the new addition does not become overwhelmed and will help them settle into your family.
Some great rules to consider are:
- Allow the new addition some time to explore the environment.
- Each family member will have some time to get to know the new addition.
- If the new pet looks scared allow them some alone time (or time with one person) in a safe and comfortable area. This may be at a distance from the excitement, in another room, in their kennel or bed, having a cuddle or hiding under something.
- Give lots of love, praise and rewards.
- Any other rules that you decide as a family.
Take your time and explore the many different pet options when looking to introduce one into your family unit. You can always speak to your local vet, they will be able to provide you with great advice and recommendations on what pet is most suitable for your child and family.