There comes a time for some parents when their children start to say that they would love a pet. It can be a challenging time as the children promise to look after their new pet and feed them every day. However, having a pet at home has many plus points, it gives your children the skills they need to take care of animals, they can be a companion and friend, and they can add another dynamic to the family. The only thing you need to do now is deciding what type of animal you are going to get. Here are some suggestions to help you make a choice.
Dogs are probably one of the animals that children can get attached to the most. The friendship and loyalty they can have together is something special. Not only that, but dogs are also good for playing games outside and running around with your children. If you can have a dog, then you will need to choose the right one for your household. Smaller dogs are easier to handle, though they can sometimes get little aggressive, especially around other dogs. The best breeds to look for are Labradors and Beagles, which are usually friendlier than some breeds and more companionable. As with any animal, you shouldn’t leave them alone with your children, especially as babies. Dogs also require the most work of other animals, so you must be prepared to walk them every day and provide distractions if you are not there. It’s also important that the house isn’t empty for extended periods during the day or they may become bored and start to get disruptive.
These feline pets are also great as companions around the house, and depending on the temperament they can sit happily on your lap for hours. However, cats are more independent than dogs and may decide to spend the entire day hiding away. That might not be what your children want, and they may not always be happy to play like dogs usually are. Cats are, however, much easier to care for; they will use a litter box inside the house or go outside if you have a cat flap. If they have food and water, they will be more than happy to stay home all day while you are out, and they won’t turn the bins inside out while you’re gone! It is important to remember that cats can scratch, particularly as kittens, so they might not be suitable for all children.
Fish are a great idea for people that don’t have a lot of room or those that are not allowed to have other pets. While they are not totally maintenance free, they are happy to be left all day, and it is easy for your kids to feed them and take care of them. As a first fish, most children have a goldfish; they can live in cold water and are happy as long as you don’t overfeed them and keep them clean. They also don’t need a big tank to live in, which is even better if space is at a premium. If you have had fish before, you can go for something a bit different and have freshwater fish. They are a little more work than goldfish, but you can get some amazing colors and interesting looking species. If you are looking for the best freshwater fish, then it is a good idea to check out some of the guides online that can help you pick the ones that will go well together.
Hamster or Gerbil
Another popular pet for children is a hamster or gerbil, mainly because they are small and easy to handle. They are also a good choice for families that aren’t ready for a cat or dog. As they are nocturnal, they will happily sleep all day while you are all out of the house and wake up later when you get home. Your kids can get hands-on with cleaning their cages and playing with them in hamster balls. Many will live 4-5 years depending on the breed, so not as long as a cat or dog, which could be upsetting for the kids. Another potential problem is that no matter how clean you keep them, there can still be a faint odor of ammonia from their urine. Although this is fine for most people, some find it too much to tolerate.
While birds are not quite as popular as family pets as they used to be, they are still interesting companions to have at home. Many will be interested in what you are doing during the day and will love to interact with you; they can also have tuneful songs that the kids will love. They can be a bit messy in their cages, so you will need to clean them out regularly. They will also take a lot of training to get to the stage where you can let them out into the room while cleaning, which might not be for all children. Some birds can live for a long time so they will be a long-term commitment. For that reason, you need to do your research to choose the best bird breed that has a nice temperament and not just a pretty color.
For those children who love bugs and insects, learning to set up an ant farm could be the ideal choice. You can start a colony in a specially designed ant farm container and watch them working all day to keep it nice and tidy. They are great for educational purposes, though your children might grow out of them eventually. They are also safe and secure in there, so they won’t get out, even if the farm is dropped.
These are just a few of the animals and other creatures you can get for your children. It can be a great lesson in looking after something else apart from yourself, and it can gain them valuable insights into the world around them.
Photo by Danilo Batista