“Please, can I have a puppy?” every parent will hear at some point.

Rather of avoiding the subject, Sharon Bergen, senior vice president of education and training for Knowledge Learning Corporation, the nation’s premier provider of early childhood care and education, recommends that parents examine if their family is ready for a pet.

Before consenting to a child’s request for a pet, Bergen advises parents to examine the benefits and drawbacks. “A pet can teach children responsibility and be a wonderful addition to a family,” she says, “or it can be a burden.” Before making a decision, Bergen advises families to examine the following factors.

Who will look after the animal? Families should have a plan ahead of time for who will feed, walk, bathe, and clean up after the pet.

Do you have enough room for a pet? A cat, a bird, or a fish may be preferred by families who live in apartments or townhouses over a Labrador retriever. Learn more about different sorts and breeds of pets at the library or on the Internet to pick which one is best for your family.

Having a pet requires time and can be costly. Family members should be aware that caring for a pet may require them to give up other hobbies. If the prospect is too frightening, parents may advise waiting until the child is old enough to assist with animal care.

Bergen advises that the entire family meet the animal before deciding whether or not to adopt it. Adopting a furry new family member is a long-term commitment, so think carefully before doing so.

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