The Best Age to Get Your Child a Pet

If you are considering letting your child enjoy the privileges and joys that come with owning a pet, you may wonder, what is the right age to get my child a pet? Many studies have cited the advantage of pet ownership, both physical and psychological, and many people have fond memories of a pet they had while growing up. However, you should take a few things into consideration before going out and getting a pet for your child. Each child is different when it comes to their level of responsibility with regards to their age. Some teens are very responsible, while some are not. You cannot assume that just owning a pet will turn a careless child into a responsible one. The love a child has for a pet does not necessarily translate into making sure the pet has food and water or into cleaning up the messes that a pet may make. Observe your child closely before deciding to get them a pet. Do they show initiative in taking care of themselves and their things? Do they obey when you ask them to do a chore? A two-year old can enjoy feeding fish every morning, with a little supervision, but they cannot train, feed, or clean up after a puppy. You also should take into consideration that pets have different responsibility levels. Fish are very easy to take care of, whereas dogs need a lot of attention and training. Try to match your child's age and responsibility level with the pet. For example, do not get a puppy for a five-year, or for a teen that works or that is involved in many extra curricular activities. Here is a short guide for the ages and the types of pets you may want to consider for you child. Ages 2-8: Easy to care for animals such as fish, lizard, turtles. Ages 8-12: Cats, hamsters, harder to care for lizards, snakes, rabbits, birds. Ages 12-18: Dogs, cats, salt water fish, birds, larger animals such as horses and goats. Remember to take into consideration not only the age of the child, but also their responsibility level, how busy they are outside the home, and the level of care that the pet will need throughout its lifetime.