I was talking with a friend recently who was trying to find a pet for her children. She had gone to several shelters and was turned away because of the age of her children. She was slightly shocked and I was too when she told me. We’ve always had kids and pets co-exist peacefully in the same house.
We’ve adopted strays from the local shelter, and we’ve purchased pure bred dogs. I’ve also adopted “rejects” from guide dog programs. Having kids and pets is possible, but it is something you want to approach with caution.
Having young children and young pets is quite a bit of work depending upon the type of pet you choose. If you choose a dog, you’ll have to deal with housebreaking and train the dog to be gentle around your children. It can be done, but it does require diligence and patience. You’ll also be teaching your children much the same thing. Children need to learn how to be gentle around an animal and they also need to learn how to behave around an animal.
I still remember the emergency room visit we had after my youngest daughter decided to see what would happen if she pulled our cat’s tail one day while my back was turned. The cat clawed her-right in her eye.
One thing I’ve found helpful when having a pet when I have had young children is to choose a pet with a laid back personality. For example, our family has chosen Labrador and Golden Retrievers. These breeds tend to be good with children and gentle. I also make sure to pick a calm and mellow puppy from the litter if I have a choice and I like to check out the parents to see what their personalities are like. While retrievers are great family pets, they can also be very hyper the first few years! You may have another favorite breed that would make a better fit for your family. I know of families with children who have beagles and spaniels and say that they are also well suited to family life.
When we have chosen a pet from the shelter, I tend to look for a well behaved pet with a detailed background sheet or I choose a young puppy. We’ve found that many pets get sent to the shelter when their family is deployed overseas and has no one to adopt the pet. These animals have already been around children and would make a perfect addition to your family.
I couldn’t imagine life without kids and pets. When our children were very young though, we just had a dog and a cat. Now that they are older, we’ve acquired other pets like birds, turtles and guinea pigs. I don’t personally feel that having young children should exclude a family from having a dog or a cat, but I do feel that some families with young children should not undertake this sort of adventure.
If you have patience, lots of love, a sense of humor, and you are willing and able to supervise your human and animal family members consistently, I’d suggest that you consider sharing your life with human and animal kids.
If you’ve already decided to share your life with an animal, take this quiz to see which breed would be best for your family.