Which Pet Will Be Best For Your Kids?

Have your kids been asking for a pet? It's pretty rare nowadays to find a parent whose children haven't tried to get them to take in a member of the animal kingdom as part of the family. But which pet is best for your kids? I know there are a lot of adorable animals in the pet store or the animal shelter, but which type will fit in best with your family? Before you decide to take one home, here are some things to consider.

The first I'll mention is man's best friend-dogs. Dogs are great fun for a household that is active, so they tend to be a big hit with children. While it can be great fun for the whole family to take part in the care of the dog, dogs are pretty high-maintenance. House-breaking in and of itself can be a big challenge, and some breeds are easier to train than others. They have to be kept on a regular feeding schedule, need lots of attention and can't be left home alone for long periods of time. Also, some breeds are more 'family-oriented' than others. While the exact span of time varies from breed to breed, dogs can have a life span up to 12-15 years. Overall dogs can make great pets, but you should make sure your kids understand the high level of commitment involved in their care.

Cats aren't as high-maintenance as dogs, but they do require a lot of care. They can be very affectionate, and petting a cat tends to be rather soothing! They do, however, tend to scratch when provoked. This can happen if your child plays too roughly with it or doesn't know when to leave it alone. It isn't hard to house-break a cat because they do a lot of the 'litter training' themselves; their instinct is to go on sand, so let it know where the box is and they usually take it from there. I wouldn't recommend having a cat in a house with a young child unless the cat either goes to the bathroom outside or the litter box is kept where the kids can't get to it. I probably don't have to explain why! Also, many people are allergic to them and might not know it.

Rodents such as hamsters and gerbils can be very good 'first pets' because they are relatively low-maintenance. Their cages need to be cleaned at least once a week, and the wood chips or newspaper used to line the cage is pretty cheap. Since they don't need bathing, they're easy to keep clean. They should be fed once a day, and always have a steady supply of water. They usually only live for about 2-3 years, which is much shorter than dogs or cats. Since they are small enough to be held and there are so many toys available, they can be a lot of fun for children to play with. The only problem I can see is that their small size makes it easy for them to be stepped on or squeezed too tightly.

Birds don't require a lot of maintenance, but they do take a lot of time and patience to train. Depending on the species, they can be very entertaining and social. However, they can also be pretty noisy and don't always like to be touched. This can be a problem if you have kids who are very 'hands-on' or if you're a light sleeper.

Fish usually don't need much care, so they can also make good 'starter pets'. It's relatively easy to care for several at a time, although species like 'bettas' don't play well with others. Since you can't touch or pet them, though, some children find them boring. Plus fish bowls and tanks need to be cleaned regularly, which isn't exactly fun!

While there are many kinds of pets out there, it takes some time and effort to find the right one for your household. Next time you go to a pet store or animal shelter, talk with the staff and they can help you decide. Good luck!

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