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?

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  • Mu kids would love a pet but for us the time is just not right yet


  • We’ve got a Labrador Retriever, now 3 years old. We bought him when he was just 6 and a half weeks old. Our daughter was 10 years old at the time. She had been asking for a dog for ages. We waited to have our own home before adding this wonderful pet to our home. :-)


  • I’m seeing too many young mums, with children under 2, getting a puppy so they can grow up together. I can think of 2 friends off the top of my head, and one has already banished her pup to a life of neglect in the backyard. The poor thing didn’t look right and was sickly so the mum was no longer interested. That poor poor dog


  • We have 2 dogs. Both are rescue dogs from family members who could no longer care for them


  • Best thing we did was get a dog. She is big and noisy and survives with all the kids!


  • if you are willing to handle a pet and the expense, then go for it….don’t forget that a lot of rental properties won’t allow pets or you will have to seek extra permission to have it (when they say pets negotiable, even then it is most likely a small pet that they are referring to)


  • My kids would love a pet but with 3 toddlers I’m currently a little time poor… Plus pets come with added expenses too that need to be considered.


  • Some very good points have been made here. Things everyone should think about.


  • There is never a right time; it’s more of a suitable time for a pet into your life. Love all our four legged children, plus they are adored by our little men.


  • I saw and interesting article on dogs and children on TV last night. One of therm main reason a dog doesn’t like its tail being touched or pulled is that it sends shockwaves from its tail right up its back and if it is severe enough into its neck too.
    Some dogs will get upset when your baby cries. I know one dog who had to go into the baby’s room and have a look at the baby herself but even if the baby was on the floor she never touched her at all, not even to sniff. Seeing was believing!! Once she had seen the baby for herself she would leave the room quite happily.


  • It sounds like you have your hands full with all those animals and humans!


  • Pets can bring such great joy to a family but also great responsibility, couldn’t imagine life without our furbaby.


  • our poor dog took a back seat once the kids were born. Before I had them he was walked daily and got lots of attention – then as hubby and I both work and have other priorities, once the kids came along we had less time for him. He started attention seeking behaviour. We found a wonderful man to give him the love and attention he deserves – was a hard decision but better for everyone at the end of the day.


  • I got a border collie puppy when my child was 6 months old, he is the reason I found my son when he went missing at poppy’s house in the space of a minute. We found him half way down the paddock and only because the dog was with him. He was about 2 at the time. I think animals are great if brought up well.


  • My kids would love a puppy. I’d love to give them one – but i dont want the responsibility, and i feel like that ultimately that will all fall to me. I’d hate for the novelty to wear off and the pet wouldnt get the attention it deserves.. so right now, much to my childrens dismay, i say nay :(


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