It’s always an exciting moment when you introduce your children to their first pet or when you bring a child back to a pet-filled home. However, not all children will be ready for pets - and not all pets will be prepared for child companionship.
Many parents have to make some tough decisions about the best pets for their children and when is the right time to get them. We’ll discuss the best ways to introduce family members and pets here.
Pets and Kids
When bringing pets and kids together, safety always comes first. Even if they aren’t intending to be aggressive, large dogs or scratch-prone cats can provide a hazard to young children.
Partially this is because the pets often don’t know any better. However, kids aren’t entirely blameless here either. Many young children find tormenting pets with ear pulling and poking to be their idea of a great time. Children don’t have the same impulse control or responsibility levels as adults.
You also have to consider the amount of work and stress you are willing to handle. Not every pet is easy to care for. The same goes for children. Are you ready to handle adjusting to a new pet while dealing with an ever changing toddler?
What is the Optimal Age For Kids to Get a Pet?
Given the considerations above, it makes sense that there are a lot of factors at play. There’s no “perfect age” where a child suddenly becomes ready for a pet. Instead, every age comes with its own considerations and best practices.
Generally, if you have a newborn baby and don’t already have a pet, it’s not the best idea to head to a pet store. New pets and babies alike need a ton of attention and care. Even if you have a pet already, it’s best to be cautious. Never leave the pet and baby alone in the same room, and supervise any interactions carefully.
If you are considering adopting your first puppy or kitten at the same time as having a new born baby, we caution you to be ready to split your time between a fur baby and human baby. It’s not a good idea to get a new pet if you won’t have the time or energy to give it the time, love and attention it needs. Dogs, cats, and humans alike need quality time to bond with you and neglecting your new pet will undoubtedly result in a poor quality of life.
Once a child is about two years old, they should be walking around independently. This is when you have to really consider “toddler” proofing the home to avoid injury. This is also the point where many parents decide to get a pet as.
If you do choose to get a pet, you should choose carefully. Slightly larger dogs, with a reputation for being docile, are often the best bet for young children. Toddlers have little sense of personal space and might terrorize a smaller dog or cat. However, it can also be worth it to wait a few more years if you are set on a smaller breed. Regardless of a dog's size, you should also teach your children to respect the dogs personal space and avoid letting your toddler pull on the dog's tail or anything else that will cause the dog discomfort or possible aggression.
When Kids are Pet-Ready
Once children hit about the age of 5 and start to be ready to head off to preschool and kindergarten, they’re probably fully prepared for a pet to be in home full time. However, just because they’re ready for a pet in the house doesn’t mean they’re ready to take care of it.
As always, the best pets for children will be those with a reputation for being docile or a breed that fits your family’s lifestyle best. There are over 300 recognized breeds of dogs so doing your research first and learning about each breed's personality is recommended as a first step.
Always make sure to be keeping both the child and pet wellness in mind. Teaching your kids to play nicely with pets can be a great teaching experience. Thankfully with Wagmo, we can help with your peace of mind when making this big family decision. Invest in a pet wellness protection plan today so you can focus on acclimating your new family member and not worry about the routine vet or grooming needs.