Present any child with the opportunity to have his or her own pet, and you will be met with almost universal squeals of delight, excitement and anticipation. By and large, kids adore animals, and as well as bringing pleasure to the entire family, there are some pragmatic positives to pet ownership, too. A pet teaches your child responsibility, and kids who grow up around pets typically become more caring at an accelerated rate.
Of course, it is not all joy and laughter. The responsibility of pet ownership is not something that can be wholly placed on your child’s shoulders – as the responsible adult, it ultimately falls to you to ensure the pet receives the right care and attention. You also need to plan in advance as to the practicalities of where the pet will live, how it will be exercised, what it will eat and so on.
And not least, you also need to decide what sort of pet to go for. Here, we take a look at two of the most popular choices.
Kids and dogs – it is a match made in heaven, and the stuff of legends. From the Famous Five and Timmy to Dennis the Menace and Gnasher, children and dogs can form a bond that brings a tear to the eye.
Of course, these relationships do not just come about by accident, and you will need to put in some hard work. Perhaps dogs and kids get on so well because they are so similar – both need established ground rules, and will break them unless you are firm and uncompromising. Both can be unpleasant and even embarrassing if they are spoilt.
But brought up properly and responsibly, both can be the most wonderful, life-affirming things to happen to your family. Do your homework, agree the ground rules, and you are ready to find your new family member.
Of course, a dog is going to need plenty of care, attention and walks from the adults too. If you want to leave the majority of the care to your child, a rabbit might be a better choice, at least until they are a little older. Rabbits are naturally sociable and as long as they are handled regularly from a young age, will be friendly towards humans.
However, regularly means just that – if you do not give them enough attention when they are young, they will be distressed at being picked up, and will be liable to kick out. Again, it is a case of putting in the early work and you will reap the rewards.
A rabbit won’t need to be walked round the block twice a day, but it does still need exercise, so make sure there is a set daily routine. In nature, a rabbit will be active first thing in the morning and late in the afternoon – or in other words, immediately before and after school. It is almost as if kids and rabbits were just made for each other!