Pets and children – how to choose a pet your child will love

Having a pet is great for kids. It teaches them responsibility, as well as offers companionship, entertainment and a way to learn about the different aspects of life. Many kids fall in love with other people’s pets or the concept of owning a pet and ask, beg or demand parents get them one. But while pet ownership can be wonderful, it’s not for everyone. Furthermore, different pets suit different people, so a pet that would be a wonderful addition to one family could be a disaster for another. The information below will hopefully help you decide what, if any, pet you should get for your child. Always remember the saying, though: a pet is for life, not just for Christmas! Think long and hard before allowing your children to have a pet. They – or you – will have to look after its well-being for years to come.

Dogs

Many kids want a dog and it’s true that dogs are probably the best companions for children. Dogs are generally friendly, they enjoy being part of a “pack” and they are generally very protective and tolerant of children (as long as the dog is well-trained). Dogs love being outdoors so your children would have a reason to leave their tablet or computer behind and go play at the beach or the park. Big dogs are great for security and are often tame, well-behaved and friendly. Of course, all dogs can bite so your children would have to be taught how to act around them too. On top of that, dogs require plenty of looking after – they need to be walked several times a day, they require plenty of attention (some don’t like to be left alone at all) and most dogs live for many years so you’ll need to look after them for a while. If you are set on getting a dog, please consider a rescue dog rather than a puppy. It’s very difficult to rehome older dogs and some are put down for lack of resources. Rescue dogs can be some of the most loving and loyal dogs you could ever have and are well worth the investment. You’d also be teaching your child about doing good in the world. Just make sure the dog you pick is well-trained and well-behaved around children. If adopting a puppy, make sure you read as much as possible about the breed (or breeds) in question, as well as everything about training puppies. Housetraining a puppy can be a hard, messy business!

Cats

Fluffy, cute but often somewhat mean, cats are a popular choice as a pet, as they don’t require as much looking after as dogs. Cats are independent, which is great, but they don’t always like to be handled, while kittens can seem quite “aggressive” while playing, which puts some people off. You’d definitely need to speak to your children about how to handle a cat and how they need to give the cat plenty of space and not hassle it when it wants to be left alone. Kittens can be trained to not bite and scratch, but it does take some patience and the occasional mishap before that happens. If you want better-behaved kittens, it’s best to get more than one. Kittens will play with each other and teach each other not to bite and scratch too hard. They also take out all their excessive energy on each other, leaving them calmer around humans. You can keep cats indoors, so they are suitable even for flats without a garden and areas that are very busy with traffic. If you find the right cat for your household they can be a wonderful, loving and entertaining pet.

Smaller pets

Mice, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs and rabbits can be kept in small spaces and don’t require as much handling. They are great for children with allergies who would nonetheless like to keep a pet. As they are vegetarian, they are also great for people who are vegan or vegetarian and don’t want to bring any meat into the house. You may be surprised to know that these little creatures are actually quite intelligent and form strong bonds with their owners. They each have their own character and can provide hours of entertainment for your child.

Fish

Although not entirely hassle-free, fish are probably the easiest pets to keep. Aquariums are a beautiful addition to your home and as long as you ensure plenty of space and the right water temperature, your fish will thrive. All they need is regular feeding and the occasional cleaning of the tank. If you can’t afford the upkeep of any of the other pets mentioned or want to start your child off with something easy. A fish tank is the perfect solution. Goldfish are probably the easiest to keep but there are plenty of other exciting options. If you’re brand new to fishkeeping you can read more about aquariums at http://comeintothewater.com/ and see if this is for you.

Whatever pet you choose to keep, you child will definitely be better for it!