Help choosing the ideal family pet
The benefits of bringing children up with pets are well known – having pets helps children learn about taking responsibility for another’s needs and wellbeing, as well as teaching them how to be kind and respectful to others and specifically to animals. Taking care of a pet can be extremely rewarding and can help build a child’s confidence, as well as giving them companionship and teaching them about unconditional love.
But in reality, once the novelty has worn off, the responsibility and day-to-day duties will likely fall to you – the parent! So it’s important that your family’s choice of pet is one that you can live with in the long-term.
When it comes to choosing the ideal family pet, a lot of children will automatically ask for a dog or cat, but don’t be surprised if the idea of a pony or even something more exotic from the reptile family comes up!
So what is the ideal family pet? In my experience, there really is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach. Your circumstances will largely dictate what is and isn’t feasible. Answer these questions to find the ideal family pet for you.
* Where do you live? You can’t keep a pony in the back garden, but you could pay for livery nearby.
* Do you work? A dog will soon get fed up and may turn to mischief if you are out all day, while a cat is more likely to be happy roaming outside while you are all at work or school.
* Where do you go on holiday? You can take dogs with you to a lot of places, especially if you holiday in the UK, while other pets may need to stay behind while you go away, so you will need to find someone to look after them.
* How long do you want to commit? Smaller pets such as hamsters and gerbils tend not to live as long as dogs and cats, which can mean that the heartache of losing them comes sooner, but you are not left looking after them long after your children have left home, while dogs and cats can live long enough to be real companions through childhood. Beware of parrots and tortoises though – they can outlive you!
Fish are great pets for small children who can watch them through the glass and drop in a few flakes of food without getting into too much mischief! And they are very relaxing to sit and gaze at after a long day.
But be prepared – buying fish isn’t as easy as it used to be. The traditional bowl on top of the TV has been replaced by mini aquariums requiring lights, pumps and if you want to go tropical, heaters, and you will probably need to set up a tank for a week or so to establish the correct environment before buying any actual fish.
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