Finding the right family pet for a small child can be a labor of love. Work with your child to find the ideal pet to adopt for your family and enjoy the results everyday.
Owning a pet can be a wonderful experience for a child. Caring for an animal can teach a child responsibility, compassion, empathy and other life long important values. Walking a dog can inculcate healthy exercise habits. Teaching a parrot to speak can help a child learn patience. Picking out produce for a bunny rabbit can help a child develop healthy eating patterns.
Once you’ve decided a pet is a good idea, many questions arise. What kind of pet best suits your family? How old should your child be when she gets her first pet? What’s the best place to acquire an animal for adoption? Should you go to the local animal shelter? Or seek out a reputable breeder?
Current Living Conditions
The answer to these questions depends on many factors. As the child’s caregiver, you will ultimately be responsible for the animal in question. Before answering, think about your current living conditions. Do you live in a house? A condo? Do you have a backyard? Is someone home during the day? Do you want to breed the animal? Are you physically active? Or more sedentary?
Many experts do not recommend pets for children younger than six. Six is a very good age for a child to have his first pet. Six year olds can easily learn to take care of an animal. Most six year olds can quickly learn to follow simple pet care instructions. Children often love the feeling they get from being trusted with, “big girl” tasks.
Hamsters, Gerbils and Mice
A good pet for a younger child is a small rodent. Diminutive furry animals like hamsters, gerbils, mice and rats can provide your little girl with hours of entertainment and fun. Have your child come with you so you can pick out a pet together. Buying a petite rodent will not put much of a dent in your budget. Most pet stores will sell all you need to get started for under $25. Consider buying more than one so they can keep each other company. Make sure that the rodents are the same sex or they may fight when one animal goes into heat. Brother or sister pairs make very good pets.
The Selection Process
When you go to the pet store ask if you can handle the animal. A good pet store will let you hold the animal before you make that decision. Look for an animal that has no sign of sickness. A hamster’s eyes should be clear. A gerbil’s fur should be soft and shiny. Healthy animals are less likely to disappoint your child and more likely to make good pets.
Once you’ve settled on a choice make sure your child understands all that is involved in taking care of pet. Help the child feed the pet and make sure that the pet has the right water as well as an exercise wheel in good running order.
Work with your young child to introduce her to the joy’s of pet ownership and help her kindle a life long love of animals.