​Five Ways Having a Pet Teaches a Child Responsibility

Posted by Nicole Cowart on Jun 3rd 2020

When a child asks his parents to get a pet, not all adults give a proper reaction to it. As a parent, most of us understand the permanent responsibility that pet ownership bears, and doubt a kid’s ability to take proper care of one. We often consider the downside of the matter. However, only a few fully realize how many benefits it can give to a child.

A child with pet receives many valuable life lessons. Some of the key benefits of owning a pet are:

  • Higher self-esteem caused by unconditional love
  • Physical activity
  • Patience
  • Compassion
  • Respect
  • Empathy
  • Loyalty

One of the biggest benefits however (especially from the parental point of view) is responsibility. Can owning a pet really teach a child responsibility? In this article, we are going to give you some evidence that it can!


Children are usually not very responsible by default. They are open-minded, active, and always strive to have fun.

Trying to teach their kids to be more responsible, most parents make a big mistake. They are forcing a child into completing certain duties, instead of making them want to undertake responsibility. This often results in conflicts, when a child gives preference to games and fun activities, giving up on their homework (discover this) or home duties. However, there is another, a more pleasurable and effective way to make a child more responsible. Here are the five ways pet responsibility helps make a child more accountable:

Medical Care

Medical care is a big part of owning a pet. Of course, a child cannot carry out any home treatment without the supervision of adults. However, getting a kid involved, at least a bit, is also a great way to build up responsibility. Paying close attention to a pet’s wellbeing also teaches a kid empathy. All in all, medical care also teaches kids that responsibility sometimes may involve not-so-pleasant things, which is also important.

Giving Attention

Initially, most children see a pet as a cute, live toy. However, as soon as they actually get a pet, they reevaluate their beliefs. A kid with a pet learns that an animal is a living being, not a toy, and starts realizing the importance of taking decent care of it.

This teaches a child about empathy and value of a live creature’s life. That’s when they realize that giving enough attention and love to their animal on a daily basis is an inevitable part of the responsibility for its life.


Providing Food

Even the smallest children already understand that food is one of those basic needs a living being needs to live. They know what it feels like to get hungry and understand that they need parents to provide food for them. And when they get a pet, they can learn that it needs just the same thing and they can be a source of fulfilling that need. This teaches them to be responsible for feeding their animal.

One more thing that contributes to boosting a kid’s level of responsibility for providing food for their pet is the reaction an animal gives to it. Let’s say when a child fills the dog’s bowl with food and the dog gobbles it up right away, a kid sees that he did something important. Feeling like he or she is helping will really reinforce a kid’s desire to be involved and thus will boost his responsibility.

Personal Care

Just like any other live creature, dogs, cats, and other animals need personal care. Seeing a beloved pet getting dirty or furry, makes a child want to help it. That’s another way pet ownership teaches kids responsibility as they need to keep an eye on their pets to recognize when they need care. At the same time, giving a bath or brush to an animal also helps hone a child’s own personal care skills.

24/7 Responsibility

Finally, after taking on the responsibility for an animal’s life, a child inevitably learns that his pet requires around-the-clock attention and care. Soon, after getting used to fulfilling the most basic needs, a child will also learn that responsibility for a pet may go beyond feeding and playing. That’s when a kid will start wanting to contribute to higher levels of care and bring his responsibility to an entirely new level.

The Bottom Line

Pet ownership has been proven to have plenty of benefits, especially for children. Having a pet, a child learns a lot of high-value life lessons on compassion, patience, trust, respect, and responsibility. Besides, young children are known to get along with animals pretty well. Just like their beloved pets, kids enjoy high energy games as well as relaxing cuddling.

In conclusion, given all the benefits of owning a pet starting from childhood, we would advise parents not to deny a kid’s desire to get a pet. Instead, if your child turns to you with such a request, be sure to discuss the matter of responsibility. Explain a child the permanency of having a pet, discuss duties, and give your kid a chance to take care of someone!

This post was written by Nicole Cowart. Nicole is an experienced academic writer and a professional in the field of child psychology. In this post, Nicole tells us about the benefits of pet ownership for children and about the ways it teaches a child to be more responsible.


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