How We’re Preparing Our Son for His First Pet

A.J. has been asking to get a pet for the last three or four years. We have several friends who are dog owners. His favorite sitter/former preschool teacher owns a cat A.J. loves to play with when he’s at their house. I can see him getting his first pet when he’s about 10 or 11, not 8. Plus, we rent our home so I don’t feel like paying a pet deposit for possible damages too. We’re teaching A.J. that owning a pet is a huge responsibility and there’s a lot to consider before he gets his first pet. Thanks to LifeLife Animal Project’s volunteers and staff, he got many of his questions answered and we can make decisions together on what kind of pet we’d like to add to our family. My affiliate links are below where I’ll earn a commission for your purchases.

How We’re Preparing

Our Son for His First Pet

How We're Preparing Our Son for His First Pet

Attend Pet Events

This summer our local library hosted a Pet Care event for children.

A.J. and the other children asked about feeding animals, how to report stray animals to the authorities and some great questions about exotic pets. LifeLine Animal Project volunteers also brought rescue dogs who are available for adoption.

A.J. was eager to get up close with these gentle animals. Although this was a new experience for the dogs like Bark Twain (isn’t that a great name?), he didn’t bark and didn’t mind when A.J. attempted to walk him.

Check with your local library to see when animal professionals from the zoo, veterinarians or animal rescue volunteers are visiting.

Visit an Animal Rescue

One of the closest animal rescue organizations near us is Lifeline Animal Rescue in Avondale Estates, Georgia.

By sending an email, we scheduled a tour and visit with the volunteer & events coordinator, Ashley Brand. This location is also a spay and neuter clinic. Rescues who come in are treated, spayed or neutered and receive a tracking chip in case they’re every lost.

The area with the dogs was a little too loud for A.J. so we stuck with the quieter cats and dogs who’d just gotten treatment, so they were calmer.

Learn about volunteer opportunities at LifeLine Animal Project. Google your closest animal rescue or county animals services location.

*Most animal rescues require parental supervision for children who volunteer, like LifeLine Animal Rescue.

[Tweet “Did you know children can volunteer @LifeLineAnimal w/ adult supervision? Info: “]

Consider a Weekend Warrior program where you can care for a pet short-term and see if it’s a good connection for you both.


How We're Preparing Our Son for His First Pet


Raise Funds/Donate items

I dug into our linen closet where I found a bunch of old sheets and towels. Instead of having them fill a landfill, I went to my neighborhood Facebook group to see if anyone knew where I could donate them. Ironically, LifeLine Animal was the first place mentioned. I visited the LifeLine website, saw the list of eligible donated items and its wishlist.

Your family can also host a fundraiser and donate to a local animal project to help support its efforts.

Discuss Animal Cruelty Stories

Since my husband and I are both journalists, A.J. gets to watch a healthy dose of local and national news. Going forward we will make an effort to point out and discuss animal cruelty stories in the headlines. Sensitive children may have a problem with this depending on the video or photos that accompany the story. A.J. is very familiar with news stories so I know he can handle many of the topics.

How We're Preparing Our Son for His First Pet

Talk back to me below: Pet owners, how did you get your family ready before you added a pet? If you’re considering getting a pet, are you familiar with the costs and expenses?

Connect with LifeLine Animal Project on Facebook and LifeLine on Instagram.

About Joyce Brewer

Creator & Host of Mommy Talk Show. Emmy award-winning TV journalist.Wife & Mommy; Mom Blogger; Social Media Coach; Long Island, New York transplant living in Atlanta, GA. Follow Joyce on Twitter @MommyTalkShow Author of Use What You Know: A Business Idea Guide for Moms featuring interviews with mompreneurs who created businesses using their skills & backgrounds.

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  1. These are great tips to help your child get ready for pet ownership. We own a Maltese, and before we got a pet, I talked to and explained to our kids that it’s a responsibility for sure. They walked friends’ dogs and even went over to help feed them from time to time.

  2. My kids have been asking for a puppy for ages now. I finally yes. So, now we’re just looking for the right breed that will be the best fit for us. We’ve checked out several books from the library and they’ve been exposed to dogs a lot since my mom has two and we visit regularly. We’ve already set ground rules like the dog has to sleep in his/her own bed so that no one gets hurt accidentally.

    I think it’s great that although AJ can’t have a pet now, you guys are still preparing him for when he can. He will definitely be ready when that time comes.

  3. My kids wanted a dog so bad but guess who ended up taking care of him. Yep, moi. I wish we had have done our homework and made rules before hand.

  4. This is a great idea, my kids want a dog. They have very little experience with dogs. Volunteering would allow them to see what the real responsibilities are like.

  5. These are really great ideas! He will be totally prepared, ready to be responsible, and compassionate. Great job!

  6. These kids want a dog so bad but since I will be the one responsible, it’s a no for me. But if I change my mind, I am definitely using some of your tips. The visiting and exploring with a shelter dog is such a great hands on idea.

    • That’s exactly why I’m hesitant about the dog too. The boy and my husband say they want it – but I’ll be the one taking care of it.

  7. I love the steps you are taking to prepare your child. My daughter loves puppies /dogs in general but says eeww when she shes the poop. I am like yes darling that is part of it if you plan to care for a pet. Lol

    • Yep, it’s the worst part of pet care. But it has to be handled. I’d like to wait until our son is 10/11 so he’s old enough to walk a dog around the neighborhood.

  8. Aww these are great tips, Joyce! We have two cats and my teens take care of them. We’ve had them for 10 years now. All five of my kids really want a dog, but I don’t think we’re ready just yet. I like your idea to attend pet events. I think that’s a great way to get your kids familiar with being around animals.

  9. These area ll great ideas. My son is only 2 but he love dogs. So I know it’s only a matter of time before he starts asking for one. I’d love to take him to evens like this when he is older.

  10. These are some great tips! I can tell from people that I know that taking care of pets is a major commitment/responsibility.

  11. I think this is great. Especially since it is such a responsibility that usually parents end up dealing with. He is so cute too.

  12. These animals make cute pets. I love that lil kitty. It’s a good thing that you’re training your son from young.