In Heather Grimshaw’s study “The Four-Legged Cure,” she sat down a group of kids, and asked them to list their ten most valued relationships. Then she asked who they would rely on in a time of need. How did most children respond? A startlingly majority answered their pets. Pets help reduce stress levels, and they can instill essential life skills, like responsibility, from an early age. With so much to gain, the next reasonable question is, what are good pets for kids to have?
Think About You First
In order to determine what are good pets for kids to have, you’ll have to ask yourself a couple of questions. Do you want a small, starter pet? For what a small pet lacks in cuddliness, it more than makes up for in ease of care. Choosing a goldfish or hermit crab is a great way to teach younger kids responsibility and well as inspiring a respect for all life. In all likelihood, your child will be able to care for these pets, more or less, on his or her own. If you are looking for the best pet for children under 5, this may well be the way to go. There may be a few initial expenses, like a cage or aquarium, but food and maintenance beyond that should not cost much.
You may be asking what about a cat or a dog? Sure the most popular companion animals must be good pets for kids to have? That decision is more of a commitment. You can expect regular vet bills, food, and grooming costs. If you are getting a dog, you may want to anticipate replacing a few pairs of shoes, too. More importantly, it’s realistic to expect that you will be the one caring for a cat or dog, your small child would just be enjoying the companionship. That may be enough for you. But if you are looking for the child to actually take care of the pet, it’s probably best to start small.
Small pets for kids may be best as their size and limited needs make them the easiest pets for kids to take care of. These pets will help you determine just how involved your child is likely to be, without adopting “another member of the family,” like a dog or a cat. Some of the best starter pets, or the best small pets for kids, are rabbits and box turtles.
Rabbits offer variety, ranging anywhere from two to 13 pounds, and coming in a number of different colors. They need a lot of exercise, and that will be fun for children who want to play. Turtles, on the other hand, are pretty low maintenance. For the most part, all you have to do is stick them in an aquarium, and decide whether you want to purchase one turtle, or buy four and name them after the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Just keep in mind that some have very long lifespans, and can live as many as 40 years. Here’s a fun fact, Sylvester Stallone still owns the turtles that his titular character owned in the movie Rocky! That’s right, he’s still caring for his starter pets after 40 years!
Cats and Dogs
If you are looking for an addition to the family, a cat or dog may be best. In most cases, both can make perfectly good pets for little kids. If your kids are young, try adopting an older cat or dog from the shelter. Kittens can be feisty, while puppies require a lot of discipline and training. In most cases, they may not mix well with young kids. Older animals are much more likely to tolerate children, and you will not have to worry about training them. As always, consider adopting for your local animal shelter first. Those are animals that are craving a connection.
What are good pets for kids to have? That answer largely depends on you. If you are hesitant, start kids off with a small, low-maintenance pet. If you are in it for the long haul, and willing to help children take care of animals, you may want to consider a dog, or a cat. Remember that you are choosing the first pet for child, so this is something they will remember fondly for the rest of their lives.