Bringing Home a Pet
Ages 7-14, Focus: Cats and dogs
This information is designed to prepare young children for welcoming a new pet into their homes. It is important for children to understand the responsibility involved in caring for a pet, which encourages them to develop a sense of empathy, kindness and self worth.
Having a pet can be a lot of fun. A new cat or dog will become a part of the family and can become one of your closest friends. A new pet is a lot of responsibility, too. They need love, care and attention to stay happy and healthy. Before you get a new cat or dog, make sure you think about these important things:
1. Will you help to take care of your new pet?
A new dog or cat needs to be given fresh food and water regularly. Ask an adult to show you how much food to feed it everyday, and make sure there is always a big bowl of water for them to drink. Dogs and cats get hungry and thirsty, just like us, and it is up to you to provide your pet with this basic need. Dogs need exercise to stay happy and healthy. You can give this to them by taking them for a walk. Dogs need to be on a leash if you take them for walks outside. Organise a time everyday with an adult to take your dog for a walk and it will love you for it.
2. Will you help clean up after your new pet?
Cleaning up after your pet is an important responsibility. Like us, dogs and cats enjoy feeling clean and rely on us to keep them that way. Give your pet a bath once in a while, and if they are not toilet trained, be prepared to pick up a lot of poo around the house! You can train dogs to poo outside, and cats will usually poo in a litter box. If your cat uses a litter box, you must empty it everyday and change the litter regularly (use gloves when doing this and wash your hands afterwards, or ask an adult to do it when you see it needs to be emptied).
3. Will you have enough time to spend with your new pet?
Animals, like us, need love and attention. Even if you get busy, you need to spend some quality time with your pet everyday. This means talking to them, cuddling them, running around with them in the backyard and playing with them with their favourite toys. We feel good when we spend time with friends and so do other animals.
4. Where will you get your new pet from?
There is way to get your new pet other than from a pet shop, and that is from the local animal shelter. Many people take their pets to shelters when they can’t take care of them anymore or if they no longer want them. Many of these animals would make wonderful companions but they are often forgotten. Ask an adult to go with you to visit the cats and dogs needing new homes at a shelter in your area. You may find your new best friend here!
5. Remember that a pet is for life!
Too many people forget that a pet is part of the family and is a lifelong commitment. Animals grow old and have emotions, just like us. They don’t like to feel lonely or abandoned and enjoy many of the same things that we do. Before you decide to get a new pet, remember that it is for life!
This fillable poster is a fun way for your child to consider his or her responsibility to their pet. Ask them to fill in the blanks and to draw a picture of their pet. Let them fill out their three favourite things about their pet, as well as the three responsibilities they promise to fulfill in order to care for their pet. The poster is signed and dated and can be put up on the fridge as a reminder of their promises!