What can you do if your kids pine for pets, but adoption is not an option in your home? Maybe the cost of pet ownership is too high or your family doesn’t have time to care for a pet full time. Maybe the family travels often or the sting of losing a furry family member has yet to wear off.
Whether you are choosing to go without a pet or simply putting ownership off for now, don’t let your kids miss out on making connections with the animal kingdom. Go ahead and speak openly with your family about the reasons why you choose not to have a pet at this time. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking children who are passionate about animals will stop longing simply because they can’t have them in the house.
If your kids would prefer pet ownership, encourage them to talk about any feelings of disappointment and frustration. Then soften the blow by making the most of these animal-related resources. Just because you don’t have a real-live pet at home does not mean you can’t fill your home with animal appreciation. Animals have much to teach us about humanity, love, and connection. By taking a multi-sensory approach, your kids won’t feel like they are missing out.
Even though your children may experience disappointment when they discover pets are not an option. Ultimately, they are sure to appreciate your efforts to incorporate animal appreciation for the whole family.
So you can’t have pets. Here’s what you can do, instead.
For Younger Children
1. Make regular stops at the local pet store
2. Feed outdoor friends
3. Visit neighbors with pets
4. Play pet store with stuffed animals
5. Buy birdseed and keep yard feeders full
6. Get a zoo membership
7. Collect plastic animal figurines
8. Visit the aquarium
9. Read books about animals
10. Make animal-themed crafts
11. Watch films about animals
12. Look for animal interactions at the library
13. Throw animal-themed birthday parties
14. Play with animal memory cards
15. Dress up as animals for Halloween
16. Check out day camp programs with animals
For Older Children
17. Volunteer at a farm
18. Join 4-H
19. Offer pet-sitting and dog-walking services
20. Volunteer or temporarily foster at animal shelters
21. Get a job or internship at the pet store or vet’s office
22. Attend animal-oriented sleep-away camp
23. Volunteer to care for pets owned by seniors
24. Download an app with daily amazing animal facts
25. Make family donations to animal organizations