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What are the best pets for kids to play with?

Approx. 4 minutes read

It’s easier than ever to find pets to adopt, thanks to the internet. It’s impossible to go online without seeing petitions for adopting puppies, kittens and even pigs and goats if you’ve got the space. But if you’re nurturing a young family and managing busy lives, it’s important to give a LOT of thought to which animals will adapt to your burgeoning pack.

Teaching kids responsibility through pet ownership will help them to find balance between their online time and offline life, and it will teach them those oh, so necessary traits of empathy, care and compassion. Which pets will give kids the best in playtime and unconditional love? Let’s take a look.

[H2] 1. Puppy love

Puppies and dogs just LOVE playtime , but not just any dog will do. It’s so important – for both the child and the dog – that you do your breed research first to make sure the breed (or the breeds in the mix if the dog is a mutt) is one that can tolerate the exuberance of a child. Small dogs are generally not suitable for young children unless the child is quiet, calm and will respect the dog’s needs. In this instance, it is imperative to match the energy of the child with the right pup friend. The daily walks , obedience training and grooming that are so necessary for a dog’s health and wellbeing can certainly become the responsibility of older children – tasks that can teach them about consistency and goals.

Most children will need some introductory guidance on how to treat their furry friend as a sensitive and special ‘other’ who needs their utmost care. Children and dogs should be supervised at all times until the child is old enough (after puberty) to take on the responsibility by themselves.

2. Purrfect pals

Getting a purry friend for your child may come with a mixed bag of results. As most cat people know, cats are a force unto their own, and only truly special people get to enjoy the cat-human bond at a young age. Once again, cat and child will need to match each other’s energy. A playful kitten will love the always-on energy of young children, but those children need to learn how to properly handle a cat and to respect their space when they need some me(ow)-time.

Cats are also great for kids because they are more independent by nature than dogs, and won’t need as much training, guidance and ‘pack orientation’ as a dog will. As long as you can teach your child to feed and water their purry friend consistently and to scoop the litter box once a day, the cat will pretty much make up her mind about how she occupies herself the rest of the time. Many cat toys are designed to facilitate strengthening the bond between cat and owner while also satisfying the cat’s hunting urges and giving her enough exercise. A child with a cat wand will provide irresistible playtime for his purry friend!

[H2] 3. Tiny fuzzy friends

Rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters can make good pets for children, but there’s a caveat: these small pets don’t automatically like to be handled and played with. Small pets need to be socialised to humans and first need to learn that getting picked up and carried around is not threatening to them. In the wild, these animals are ground-dwellers, so being picked up can trigger a survival response – as though they were being carried off by birds of prey.

However, one socialised, small pets can provide big fun for kids as well as an opportunity to learn to be responsible and gentle with their tiny friends. For more about small pet care, read our article here.

[H2] 4. Feathered friends

Birds can be wonderfully social and interactive pets for children to play with. From budgies and cockatiels for beginners, to parakeets, cockatoos and parrots for more experienced handlers, birds are the loud and colourful members of the pet world. As with most pets, birds need socialisation and training that is quite specialised, as well as a proper understanding of their habitat – i.e. that they should not be caged all day and also need stimulation and exercise to stay mentally and physically fit.

Birds can make wonderful pets for older children, while younger children may need more guidance in order to give their feathered friend an enriching and healthy life. On the upside, parrot enthusiasts who really understand their birds’ needs and can meet their veterinary, nutritional and exercise requirements, will have a pet friend that lasts almost their entire lifetime. Before adopting a new pet for your child, please do the necessary research on the animal’s personality, behaviour and care requirements.

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