Many of us have fond memories of growing up with the companionship of a family pet. Whether they were there to greet us at the front door, or just sitting idly in our lap, you could always count on them to be there when you needed them.
The benefits of having a pet in your life as a child are becoming clearer. Multiple studies have now shown that animals can aid in both the emotional development and physical health of a child.
It’s not surprising to learn then that 68% of US households have an animal in the family.
Dogs and cats are the most popular but the size and care mean that they aren’t the perfect fit for every household.
To give you some inspiration, we’ve looked into the pros and cons of different pets. We’ve come up with a definite list of the seven most child-friendly pets.
A Labrador Retriever
Their friendliness and powerful sense of smell has also meant that the Labrador has become the breed of choice for assisting the disabled, elderly, and police or military forces.
Children and ‘labs’ get on famously. For parents, the Labrador makes the ideal pet. Their intelligence means they’re easy to train and follow orders. This level of discipline can serve as a great example for a young child growing up.
In Short – Easy to look after and beautiful to look at, you can’t go wrong with a goldfish for a family pet.
With a little help from mom and dad, the goldfish can be the ideal ‘starter’ pet for any young child.
Although this particular breed of fish is relatively cheap to buy, the equipment needed to look after one can escalate quickly. A tank, filter system, food, and PH reader can exceed $100, straight off the bat.
The good news is that once everything is set up, a child of almost any age can take the reins. Teaching them to feed the fish on a daily basis will help them to understand the importance of responsibility.
Even though goldfish can’t provide the companionship of a dog, their beauty alone is enough to keep children entertained.
Source: Gumtree Australia
In Short – This intelligent breed proves that the best things come in small packages.
With its simple brown-and-white coloring, the beagle is arguably one of the most recognizable dog breeds around.
Although its origins have been traced back to the times of the ancient Greeks, it wasn’t until the 1830s that the breed developed into the one we’ve become familiar with today.
A Beagles’ great sense of smell, along with its natural intelligence, has meant that it has become a favorite with farmers and police forces. It’s in the presence of children, however, where this breed really comes into its own.
The beagle is one of the most easy-going dogs. They love human interaction and will often wag their tail, as soon as you show them any signs of attention.
Their small size is another major plus in comparison with other breeds. Not all families have large homes, so it’s useful to have the option of a four-legged friend that doesn’t take up much space.
A Chilean Rose Tarantula
In Short – They’re not the cutest of animals, but having a tarantula as a pet can help children to overcome their fears.
Famous around the world for their hairy body and large size. The tarantula has become a creature of fear for many humans, thanks to their frequent cameos in low-budget horror flicks. Despite their reputation, the creatures themselves are a lot less harmful than they might appear.
In fact, the Chilean Rose Tarantula is a commonly kept exotic pet. They originate from the scrublands of Northern Chile, where they feed on insects and small lizards to survive.
In a home setting, the species can thrive. Unlike other breeds of tarantula, the Chilean Rose is docile, which means they don’t mind being handled by humans.
Space shouldn’t be an issue either. A ten-gallon tank with plenty of soil is enough to keep them happy.
Keeping a spider as a pet can be a great educational resource for children growing up. Learning to admire arachnids, rather than fear them, can help them to overcome other worries throughout their childhood.
If you do have young children, you should be aware that every species of tarantula has a poisonous bite. Tarantula’s being handled around children should be supervised by an adult.
The effects of a nip from the Chilean Rose Tarantula are minimal. A short, sharp pain may cause a few tears amongst those under a certain age.
In Short – A big dog with an even bigger personality. A St. Bernard will help bring laughter to any family.
Back in the 1600s, a brotherhood of monks ran a hospice in the Swiss Alps that gave weary travelers shelter.
As the monks were required to carry out regular mountainside rescues, they decided to start breeding a strong and reliable hound to help assist them.
They named the breed after their patron saint, St. Bernard. Over the years, the breed would slowly evolve to become the droopy-faced furball that we know today.
As a relaxed and patient hound, you can always trust the Saint Bernard in the company of young children. Their friendly demeanor means that little ones can lean on or cuddle them while watching television.
Enough though they’re large in size, they aren’t an aggressive breed. Despite this, they do have a loud bark and can double as a great protector of a family home.
In Short – Don’t let their looks fool you; rats are extremely intelligent and make fantastic companions.
The domestication of rats first came about in the 18th century, where humans used them as prey in blood sports.
Their reputation as disease-carrying animals stems largely from the black plague that wiped out 30-60% of Europe’s population in the 14th century.
While a small proportion of the current wild rat population does carry some diseases that can be harmful to humans, domesticated rats are disease-free.
Unlike dogs or reptiles, domesticated rats perform an array of grooming techniques to keep themselves clean.
Rats, in general, are sociable animals. A recent study by the University of Chicago found that a pack of rats would rather help to free a trapped cagemate than gorge on delicious chocolate chips.
Due to this behavior, most rat experts advise keeping them in pairs. Be warned – if you do end up with two rats of the opposite sex, you’re likely to end up with a lot of offspring.
Although rats are excellent pets for older children, minors do have a tendency to grip onto them too tightly, which can cause them internal damage.
On top of that, younger children may find it difficult to grasp the importance of keeping a rat in their line of sight. If left unattended, a rat can easily nibble through an electric cable.
In Short – Gentle in nature and as cute as a button, a rabbit is the perfect child-friendly pet.
Legend has it that the ancient Romans first domesticated European rabbits sometime around the year 600. During the intervening years, rabbits have evolved from a source of food to a popular family pet.
It’s not hard to understand why. Their gentle nature, coupled with their cute look, has meant generations of humans have found it tough to view the rabbit as a food source.
They make great companions as well. Rabbits can bond with their owners, following them everywhere around a family home.
In contrast to dogs, rabbits are very quiet. If you live in an urban environment, your neighbors might thank you for choosing the latter as a family pet.
Despite not being renowned as brainiacs, it’s possible to teach rabbits basic commands such as to jump.
Although rabbits have a gentle nature, particularly the larger breeds, have them neutered to help reduce the prospect of them becoming agitated around children.