Pets can be an important part of family life, but knowing the right time to bring an animal into your home is tricky.
If you’re unsure, here are 10 signs you and your brood are ready to love and care for a pet. 
1. Your child is comfortable around animals
Getting a pet isn't the cure for a fear of animals. Work on building up your child's comfort level in ways other than getting your own pet. Visit an animal shelter or spend time with friends' pets. Begin by introducing your child to calm animals, such as older dogs, rather than puppies. 
2. Your child shows respect for animals
Kids must respect the guidelines for appropriate behaviour around animals. For example, they must understand pets should not be tugged or hit. They must be touched gently and left alone while eating. Just because a child wants to interact with a pet doesn't mean it's an appropriate time to do so, and kids need to have the self-control to leave the animal alone.
3. Your child can handle family tasks
How does your child do when you ask him to unload the dishwasher or set the table? If he's taking care of his current responsibilities, he might be ready to participate in pet care.
4. You have the time and space
Consider your day-to-day schedule and how a pet would fit into this. Is it possible right now to find the time to feed, care for and walk a family pet if necessary? If the answer is no, then you should put off bringing a pet into the home until you have the time to care for one. They're a lot of work! Also - how much space do you have in your home? Do you have room for a pet? Do you have a garden for a pet to run around in? These are all important factors to consider before making the huge commitment of adopting a pet. 
5. Your family are really committed to the idea of getting a pet
Make sure your child is in this for the long haul before bringing your new pet home. Determine whether the wish for a pet is a passing fad or a desire that will stick around, even when pet ownership feels like a chore.
6. Your children want a pet that is the best fit for the whole family
Children need to understand not every pet will be right for your family. Consider which pets fit the time and space you have available. 
7. Your child has lots of energy
If your child or children loves running around in the garden, going to the park and playing outside, a pet may help them get all of that extra energy out. If your children are old enough, they can walk the dog together after dinner to get some exercise or you can all go as a family.
8. Your family has given pet ownership a trial run
Spend time with pets before acquiring one. Offer to take on a weekend of dog sitting in your own home, so kids can experience what it's like to have a animal in their everyday environment. Cats, however, are not a good animal for a pet-sitting experience; a change in environment stresses cats, so it's not a good idea to bring one into your home for the weekend.
9. The entire family is on board
The entire family should be engaged in the adoption of a new pet. If anyone in your house is allergic to animals or doesn't like them, then your family needs to respect that. Pet ownership can be a rewarding experience, but if the whole family doesn't support the idea, then this isn't the right time to get a pet.
10. You're prepared to take on the responsibility
If your family is going to get a pet, the adults in the house need to assume responsibility for the animal. The best way to think about it is that you are getting a family pet in whose care the children can participate, rather than expecting your children will be the main caretakers. Even if your child shows every sign of readiness, if you're not ready, then it's not the right time.
Image via Pinterest.