Children's Pet Guide: How To Choose And Introduce A Family Pet

Adopting or purchasing the first family pet for your child is an exciting time and there are many things to consider before bringing a new fur or scales baby home. To make the decision and process easier for you, we created the Children's Pet Guide: How To Choose And Introduce A Family Pet.

We all know the old saying about working with children and animals but in a family setting, pets provide children with a unique friendship and bond that will teach them love, patience, compassion and kindness towards others. Adopting or purchasing the first family pet for your child is an exciting time and there are many things to consider before bringing a new fur or scales baby home. For example, it’s important to think about what species of pet would suit your family best, what breed, whether you adopt from a shelter or purchase from a reputable breeder, and how the pet will fit into your family dynamic and schedule. To make the decision and process easier for you, we created the Children's Pet Guide: How To Choose And Introduce A Family Pet. This blog will tell you about:

-How to choose a pet

-How to introduce your child and family to the pet

-Who should feed the pet

-Playtime with pets

-Relaxing downtime with pets

Choosing a first pet

Choosing the perfect species of pet for your family is the first step and there’s plenty to think about. Do any family members have allergies? How long will the pet be alone during the day? How much will its food, registration, vaccinations and insurance cost? Does your home have adequate house and yard space? When choosing between a cat or a dog, while it may be true that cats are less work than dogs, you also need to consider that cats are more independent and sometimes a lot less willing to be cuddled. Dogs want to be involved in every moment of their family’s life, whereas cats treasure their alone time. It’s important to know the law when it comes to keeping pets, and depending on your local council requirements, you may have to factor in the need to keep a cat permanently contained, even when he or she is outside. Dogs require a heap of extra commitments such as daily exercise, training, entertainment, someone to hang out with during the day, and someone to take care of them when you go away. For some families, it simply isn’t practical or fair to bring a cat or dog into their life, so opting for a smaller animal such as a guinea pig, lizard, bird or fish is a wonderful and rewarding alternative.

Introducing a child to their new pet

Children's Pet Guide

The day you bring a new pet home is super special and exciting for the whole family and it’s important to make sure you’re prepared. New surroundings can be overwhelming for any animal so it’s a good idea to create a safe, quiet space for your new friend to retreat to when they’ve had enough of exploring and getting to know everyone. Being kind to animals is a wonderful trait for your children to develop and care about, so showing them how to approach, handle and cuddle their new friend in a safe, calm and gentle manner is an important first step towards happy pet ownership. It’s easy for a child to become over-excited with a new puppy or kitten, and most animals don’t enjoy being chased or put in a headlock, so implementing healthy and safe barriers to create boundaries from day one, will ensure their relationship gets off to a good start.

Whose turn is it to feed the pet?

Pets come with their fair share of chores such as feeding, replenishing their water bowl, cleaning up their messes, taking them for walks and giving baths, all of which can be easily incorporated into the Thumsters app for extra thumbs up opportunities. Dogs, in particular, are routine-based animals that learn and remember what times of day they are fed and walked, and this can be a great cue to help children learn commitment, responsibility and sticking to schedules. If the whole family forgets to feed the dog, you can guarantee the dog will soon let you know in their own particular way. Dogs also benefit from continuous training, and involving a child in that process is going to provide a heap of learning opportunities for dog and child alike, further cementing their lifelong bond and developing your child’s non-verbal communication skills. Why not use the Thumsters app to track the dog’s training progress - when he or she nails a new command or trick, the dog earns a treat and your child earns a thumbs up for great coaching!


Children's Pet Guide

After all their hard work learning how to sit, stay and roll over, both child and dog will be keen for some fun and games to break up their day. Taking a break from homework or chores to play with the family pet is of huge mutual benefit to both your child and their pet. Dogs love to play games such as fetch, tug and hide & seek, all of which encourage your child to get out more and be active while providing essential exercise for the dog. You could also introduce some educational or agility games to keep things interesting. These periods of play and fun can be incorporated into the rewards earned for tasks your child is required to complete for a Thumsters thumbs up. Why not try offering 10 minutes of fetch as a reward for 30 minutes of school work?

Relaxing downtime

It’s a proven fact that cuddling a pet reduces feelings of stress, loneliness and anxiety in children and adults alike. Snuggling up with a fur baby at the end of a long day is a wonderful way for children to bond with their new best friend and wind down for bedtime. It can also be an opportunity for your child to practice their reading skills; if they find reading out loud in class or in front of the family daunting, reading aloud to their pet is a non-confronting alternative that will boost their confidence. 

Time to become a fur family?

There’s a never-ending list of great reasons to become a fur family and hopefully, we’ve helped you discover some further unexpected benefits. Ultimately the decision is dependant on your family’s needs and how a pet will affect your life both positively and in terms of extra commitment. Pets create a whole new set of family adventures, memories and stories that will last a lifetime, and it’s no secret that kids who grow up with pets develop higher self-esteem and social skills.

Children's Pet Guide
Sophie with her new pet budgie she achieved through a Thumsters goal!

Once you’ve made the decision to go ahead and adopt your new pet, why not set it as a Thumsters goal? This will help your kids take ownership of their behavior and decisions as they work towards it, and encourage them to take ownership of the new family member once they arrive! So, what’s it going to be? Cat, dog, or both?!