This is a partnered post.
A pet is a great thing for kids because it helps them to learn responsibility and makes them more social and active at the same time. Dogs are a great family pet but they’re a lot of work. When you’ve got younger kids it’s not always the best idea to throw them in at the deep end with a dog. It’s often better to get them some smaller pets that don’t require as much care and see how they get on with them. If they don’t have any trouble caring for them then maybe they’re mature enough for a dog. Here are some of the best starter pets for young kids before you get them a dog.
Fish is a great way to test the water, so to speak. They don’t require that much looking after but it’s a good way to get the kids into a good routine of feeding them every day. They also make a great decorative feature for the house. Even though they don’t require as much care, setting up the Saltwater Tank and maintaining the right temperature. It also needs cleaning out regularly as well. Getting the kids to do all this teaches them the responsibility but the fish won’t be anywhere near as high maintenance as a dog. Start them out with some really easy varieties like a Goldfish and then move them onto something more advanced like tropical fish.
Rats are a pet that often puts people off because they have a reputation for being dirty, disease riddled animals. That’s not the case at all. The rats that you find behind a dumpster might be dirty but the ones you get from a pet store are actually very hygienic. They’re a step up from fish because your kids can actually play with them but they don’t require too much hands on care. Feeding them is fairly simple but they need some exercise which means your child will have to learn to take them out of the cage and play with them for around an hour a day. They’re very social so if you’re going to get some, get at least two.
Turtles are a great pet but you should remember that they live over 20 years so if you aren’t sure whether your kids will be serious about it, maybe go for something else. They don’t do a huge amount and they move around pretty slowly so they’re incredibly easy to care for. Most species will live in a tank that doesn’t take up too much space. You can feed them on leftover vegetable skins so they’re pretty cheap to keep as well.
Hamsters are another popular pet but they’re a little fragile so you shouldn’t give one to a toddler. When they’re over the age of five they should be old enough to keep one without the risk of hurting it. They are very solitary animals so they absolutely have to live alone. They usually live about 2 years so if your child loses interest in them, you won’t be stuck with them forever.
Once you’ve tested your kids on these animals you can work out whether they could handle a dog.