Furbabies and families, oh what a wonderful tail!
What’s that expression known far and wide? Never work with animals and children? Nonsense we say, as nothing is more adorable for parents than seeing the bonds formed between their children and a family pet. Whether your bub's on the way or you have a bustling brood, a pet may be just what you need to complete the family picture.
If the little humans in your home are desperate for a furry friend, the right one for you comes down to doing you homework before you bring one home. Are you an active bunch who’d love to walk a dog? Are you a quiet clan who’d prefer to cuddle a cat? Are you all a little relaxed content with watching the waves of an aquarium? These are important factors to consider when paddling through the plethora of pet options available.
Dogs are a wonderful choice for a household pet with most parents having spent childhoods with a trusty canine sidekick in toe. Cute pie varieties like Maltese, Shi-Tzu or general terriers make great family pets because even if a larger dog breed you like is renowned for their affinity with kids, smaller dogs are better suited to your child’s smaller stature.
Dogs are best introduced when your child is physically independent and is not only old enough to help care for them, but old enough to understand language and physical cues. While dog bites and attacks are prevalent in the media, you can avoid the potential risk of these by teaching your child the signs that a dog is eating, territorial, requires space or is too playful to be near.
If you are a cat person, chances are your children are too, and a fluffy hot water bottle may be just what your kids are after. Perfect for families who don’t have the space for a dog, cats are low-maintenance, self-sufficient and highly adaptable. Consider the amount of time you have to maintain your moggy’s fur when choosing the right variety for your household and that pure bred cats tend to live shorter lives than their shorter-haired feline counterparts.
Start with a kitten so your littlies can bond with their new furry friend, however ensure your children are old enough to understand that a cat’s moody temperament and the odd cheeky scratch may not be a sign of unrequited love!
Guinea pigs are another great option for families because not only are they social animals, thriving in the company of humans, they make brilliant indoor pets adapting to litter boxes almost instantly. A better pet choice for older children however, guinea pigs are delicate creatures and require finesse when handling so as not to develop nasty habits including biting and kicking.
If you’d prefer a caged pet or your kids are into quirky, budgerigars, mice and fish may be the perfect pet for you. Offering endless hours of amusement from afar as they swing on their trapeze, run on their wheel or dash around a tank, ensure you’re happy with the level of commitment you need to invest in their maintenance as cleaning their indoor homes is a task too advanced for younger children.
Whichever pet you decide is right for your family, the lessons a pet can teach your child of love, respect and care will stay with them their entire lives and stand them in good stead for relationships with all creatures, great and small.