Are you thinking about getting a pet?
Or perhaps you have one, or more than one pet, already. People love living with pets. They provide us with unconditional love, a reason to exercise, a non-judgemental listening ear or simply something to keep us warm on a cold night.
Pets can, however, also be hard work. They requiring feeding, grooming, walking, holiday care and expensive veterinary care.
Deciding to acquire a pet is a big step. Deciding when the best time is to bring that pet into your life could be a crucial decision in the overall success of your future relationship together.
Here are some common life stages that people choose to get a pet and the pros and cons of each.
Pets prior to having children
A pet gives couples the chance to nurture and the pet gets their undivided attention. Once children come along, the pet is often neglected for a time until a new routine is established. Some people may worry about the safety of their child with a pet who has no experience of babies and children.
Pets with a baby/toddler in the family
Many parents feel the overwhelming urge to nurture and bringing a pet into the family, while you have a young child, fulfills this need. Life becomes one big caring adventure!
Pets, however, can often suffer due to the lack of time available for their needs. Many breeders are reluctant to give their pets to families with young children, as they are aware of how little time people have to invest in care and supervision.
Young children and pets
When our children are pre-school and primary school aged, parents often have a little more time to devote to a pet.
There is no doubt that children love the companionship of a four-legged friend and a furry companion to play with share their secrets with.
Supervision of young children and pets is required. The pet should never be a babysitter!
Older children and pets
Most parents of teenagers have more free time to devote to a pet. The pet can also present an opportunity to extend your nurturing abilities, after your children have less need of your cuddles. Most teenagers love their pets but have little time for them. They may grudgingly walk their dog but don’t ask them to clean up poo!
Young adults and pets
When children have grown up with pets they often acquire one of their own as soon as they become independent. With busy careers and personal lives, often including lengthy travel periods, mum and dad often become pet-sitters!
The best time for a pet
In my experience, as an animal behaviour consultant, there is no right or wrong time to acquire a pet. The best time is when you have enough time to care for that pet.
As the mother in your family, the overwhelming majority of care for that pet, and guilt when you run out of time and energy, falls to you. You should be the one making the ultimate decision about the best time for a pet and the best pet to acquire.
One thing is certain – if you give the time and commitment to your pet, they will return that affection tenfold and, unlike your children, they won’t answer you back!
Are you thinking about a pet? Do you have a pet already? When did you acquire your pets and how did you make that decision?