Why is it important to own a pet?
Is a Pet Good for My Child?
Often parents are torn. On the one hand, they understand the child's desire. On the other hand, having a pet means work and care: it needs food every day, it creates a lot of dirt. Animals need attention, care and the occasional visit to the vet. Not to mention accommodation during the vacation period.
Bringing a pet into the family needs to be considered carefully.
Children have ideal play partners in animals. They are the best cure for boredom. Having a pet in the family has a positive effect on children's development. They are more active, suffer less from loneliness and isolation.
Many children develop a very close relationship with the animal. Like on the side, they learn to take responsibility. Animals show children where there are limits through their behavior. Children have a friend in their animal who can simply be entrusted with everything. No matter what the child tells the animal, it will keep every secret.
Children love the outdoors, and animals are a part of it. There are many exciting things to discover in animals: The cat's eyes glow in the dark, some birds can sing so beautifully ... New questions are constantly being raised: Can a hamster learn to calculate? Why can a bird fly? Animals behave differently from humans. In this way children learn to respect the peculiarities of living beings.
Children quickly realize that an animal is not a toy. They recognize that it is a separate being that needs to be taken care of and whose needs need to be respected. You learn to pay close attention to the animal's reactions: if the cat does not want to cuddle, it will clearly show this. Children learn to be responsible. Self-esteem is strengthened.
Problem children often become calmer and more balanced. Many a computer stool is lured away from the screen by walking and romping around with the dog.
For city children in particular, pets are often the only reference to the animal world. With the animal you learn to respect nature and natural processes.
This also includes the downsides: small animals only live a few years. Many children now make their first acquaintance with death. You learn to grieve and cope with pain - these are important life experiences.
What do you have to think about before getting an animal?
- Which animal fits best in the family? If a family member has a pronounced aversion to cats, for example, this must be taken into account.
- How much space does the animal need? The size of the apartment plays a significant role. A dog needs more space than a white mouse. The animal must be kept in a species-appropriate manner.
- Is it allowed to have a pet? Before you buy an animal, be sure to speak to the apartment owner. The keeping of small animals is generally allowed in a rented apartment. However, the landlord must agree to a dog or cat.
- What does the animal cost? Not only the purchase of the animal costs, also food, cage or aquarium, cat litter, possible veterinary costs ... Thorough information before purchase of the animal protects you against nasty surprises.
- Who takes care of the animal during the holidays? Is there a nice neighbor or friend who feeds the animal when it is absent?
- How long do we want an animal? Think about how long you will want to bond with a pet. Many animals live longer than the enthusiasm of the little animal lovers lasts. Small animals live a few years. Dogs and cats can live well over 10 years. Turtles are often still in their prime when the offspring moves out.
- How much care does the animal need? A dog typically needs to go for a walk three times a day. It has to be fed, its fur groomed. In the case of a cat, in addition to feeding and caring for it, cleaning the litter box is important. In the case of small animals and birds, the cage must be cleaned regularly.
- How many animals do we want? Some animals such as guinea pigs and dwarf rabbits are sociable and feel most comfortable with two people. Make sure that you buy same-sex animals (if you do not want an increase).
- How about a test run? Maybe you can take care of the animal by neighbors or friends. Often you notice very quickly which peculiarities of an animal you cannot cope with.
- Animal hair allergy: If a family member has a tendency to allergies, it is better not to have any animals with fur in the household. As a precaution, do an allergy test. Ornamental fish or birds are an alternative.
At what age can my child look after an animal independently?
Entrusting an animal to a child is a great way to give them responsibility. But smaller children are not yet able to manage everything that has to do with the animal on their own. Parents have to keep an eye on it and guide it for a long time.
Kindergarten children are overwhelmed with caring for a pet. Parents still have to help with cleaning and feeding. But that shouldn't mean that all the work is left to the parents. Divide up the duties. A smaller child can also take on lighter tasks.
The parents must also show the child how to treat the animal appropriately and lovingly. The little guinea pig shouldn't be crushed with love!
The sense of responsibility for the animal is only growing slowly. Over time, the child can take on more and more tasks.
From around the age of eight, children can take care of a pet independently (but still under supervision). A child can look after a dog or cat at the age of 12 at the earliest.
Ultimately, the parents are always responsible for the animal.
The daily battle for the care of the animal
The rabbit cage stinks to heaven, again there is no food to be procured ... Many parents groan because their child simply does not care for the animal. Sometimes after a while the great joy with the animal has faded and it lives alone in its cage.
Explain to your child that they have responsibility for the little creature and that they need their care.
Smaller children in particular are hopelessly overwhelmed with caring for an animal. Parents still have to guide and help a lot. It is best for the child to have smaller duties at first: the bird needs fresh water every day, the rabbit wants freshly picked dandelions ... Cleaning a cage is still too difficult for smaller children. But it can safely carry the dirty litter to the garbage can.
Increasingly, the child can take on more responsibilities. Nevertheless, in the interest of the animal, you have to make sure that it does not forget anything. Even if it is exhausting to remind the child over and over again, remember: With these duties, your child learns to take responsibility and to take care of other living beings.
Which animals are suitable?
- From kindergarten age onwards, small animals such as guinea pigs or dwarf rabbits are suitable playmates, but only if they are kept in a species-appropriate manner. Please inform yourself in your pet shop. Golden hamsters are less suitable. You are nocturnal and want to sleep during the day. It is torture for them to be woken up to play.
- Cats and dogs are animals for the whole family. Small cats have a strong play instinct and are very cuddly. Cats are headstrong and demand respect. Dogs are ideal playmates. They have to be walked several times a day. Find out exactly which breed of dog you choose.
- Birds are not very suitable as petting animals. You still need attention and address.
- If the child wants to be petted, the purchase of an aquarium with ornamental fish is probably a disappointment at first. Swimming fish in the water often has a calming effect on children.
Under no circumstances should you simply give away an animal. This surprise doesn't always bring joy. After all, it is not a new toy, but a living being.
The whole family must be involved in deciding which animal to buy.
Can pets transmit diseases or become dangerous in any other way?
The best protection against bite or scratch wounds is to explain the behavior of the animals to the child. Often the children misjudge this. If the game becomes too cocky, bites or scratches can occur. No animal likes to be frightened or cornered. Animals also don't want to be disturbed when they are eating or having young.
Stranger cats and dogs should treat your children with caution. Not every dog wants to be petted. In any case, the children should ask the dog owner beforehand whether they can stroke the animal.
Have your child vaccinated against tetanus as a precaution. If your child has been bitten, put on a bandage and be sure to see a doctor.
Pets can be carriers of pathogens. Every pet should be checked regularly by the vet. Annual vaccinations prevent dangerous diseases that can be transmitted to humans.
Toddlers like to put all things in their mouths and are very curious. Be careful not to let them come into contact with litter boxes, leftover food, and so on.
Animal hair can cause allergies: an allergy test is advisable before buying an animal. It would be a shame if the little kitten had to be given back because of an allergy to animal hair.
Some hygiene rules for keeping pets:
- The litter box is taboo for playing.
- The animal has no business at the dining table.
- Cuddling is ok. But that doesn't mean licking each other off.
- Before eating and after playing with the animal: wash your hands!
If the cat has slept in the child's bed or if the dog has licked the child's face, this is not at all cause for alarm.
When the pet dies ...
Small animals often don't live longer than a few years. Animals can get sick or something can happen to them.
For children, the loss of their loved one is usually very painful. No wonder: it is usually their first encounter with death. Children cope with such experiences in their own way: they paint a picture of their deceased protégé, collect all the animal toys in a small box ...
It helps if you bury these and many small things connected with the animal together, maybe mark the "grave" with a beautiful stone. These rituals help children cope with the death of their beloved friend.
Do not get a "replacement" right away. Your child had a special relationship with this very animal. It will tell you by itself when an animal wants it again.
If the animal is sick, teach your child. Anyway, it senses when something is wrong with the animal. This openness is usually painful, but ultimately the child can cope better with later death.
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