Choosing a pet for your child

Animals have been faithful companions to mankind since times immemorial. In years past, hunters took hounds out on their regular voyages into the wilderness to aid in the hunt. Shepherds enlisted the help of sheepdogs to protect their flocks from wolves and other predators. Arctic dwellers raised huskies to drive their sleds. And of course, civilizations all across the globe have enjoyed the company of cats for millennia–the ancient Egyptians even revered them as holy animals. The popularity of pets has never dwindled, but the nature of their haves has changed, particularly with regards to modern families. When bring an animal into the house, consider what kind of pet will be best for your children.

Not all animals react the same way to children. If you’re looking for a fish or a turtle, this is a relatively insignificant concern, but any animal that will freely roam the house should be carefully considered. Small children, particularly infants and toddlers, are often the most difficult for pets to get along with. Small energetic canines like chihuahuas and terriers, for example, are extremely loyal to their owners but often suspicious of others in addition to being on the noisy side. Pets like these are not only more likely to wake up sleeping children with their energetic yapping, but they may also be more prone to snapping during what they perceive as play time.

Cats tend to be something of a wildcard when it comes to interacting with children. The variety of temperaments in felines is as wide and unpredictable as it is in humans. Some cats are very moody, solitary animals who dislike being touched by others most of the time, and may lash out at those who cross their boundaries. Others are more friendly and easy-going critters who love to play and cuddle. These factors often depend heavily on breeding, so this should be carefully considered. The difference between a Siamese and a Persian could be night and day.

Paradoxically, some of the best pets for children are often the big dogs. Larger canines, provided they haven’t been trained to be aggressive or overly protective, are generally very mellow and easy-going. They tend not to feel threatened by children, possibly due to their own larger stature, and are consequently more tolerant of the kind of rough-housing that little children enjoy. A large retriever or husky will often be more calm about things like tail pulling, as they often seem to view the child as a kind of strange-looking puppy. These kinds of pets have been known to be among the best companions when children are involved.

Remember, of course, that these rules are not set in stone. Every pet is different and has its own unique traits that may or may not make it ideal for a child-friendly environment. The best course of action is to introduce the child and the pet as early as possible, and have them get to know each other well enough, but make sure to keep enough distance between them when it becomes appropriate.


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