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5 Great Pets for Homes With Small Children

By Alison_wood @midnight_eden

iStock_000013749619XSmallIt can be tempting to pick up a puppy from that person that’s giving them away on the street, but if you have small kids in the home you need to think twice before you throw a pet into the mix. Small kids don’t always understand how to handle pets appropriately, and their actions could have consequences if animals feel threatened. That said, there are certain pets and breeds that are better suited to life with young children. Here are a few you might want to consider.

1.   Dogs. When it comes to small children, certain breeds of dog will provide a better fit. For example, you might not want a teacup dog that the kids might accidentally step on, but you also don’t want a large breed that might step on or knock over your kids. And you’ll also want to avoid typically aggressive breeds (Chows, German shepherds, etc.) and potentially even nervous or high-strung breeds (poodles, yorkies, and so on). So which dogs are better for kids? Beagles are a great choice since they’re medium sized and they tend to be social, playful, and curious. Collies, as a herding breed, also make for great family dogs. And of course, you can’t go wrong with labs and retrievers, although you might want to start with puppies so that they can grow along with your kids.

2.   Cats. Some people assume that cats are not going to be good pets for small children because they are aloof and self-sufficient. But this depends largely on the personality of the cat. Most people don’t realize that while cats tend to be fairly low-maintenance, they are definitely social creatures that love to play and be groomed. They will often sleep with family members and demand attention, making them good companions for kids, so long as you train your kids not to pounce on them.

3.   Birds. You might not be keen on a pet that has free run of the house. In this case, a bird can provide your home with a pet that is beautiful and fun to watch. Canaries make for great pet birds in a house with small children because they socialize with each other (they should not be handled by people), they’re nice to look at, and they provide a lovely song to liven up the household.

4.   Guinea pigs. Lots of parents think that small pets like hamsters, mice, and gerbils will be great for small kids, but there are a couple of reasons why this is a bad idea. For one thing, these small pets can be very hard to catch if they scamper away. But the bigger issue is that young children don’t always have the best control of their motor skills and it’s not uncommon for them to accidentally squeeze a tiny pet too hard. Guinea pigs, while still small, are big enough that your tyke’s little hands shouldn’t hurt them, and they’ll no doubt love the squeaks and squeals emitted by these vocal critters, especially if you have a couple since they like to chatter with one another.

5.   Fish. A tank full of colorful fish is a great idea for parents that don’t necessarily feel their kids are ready to handle animals. As kids get older they can be taught to feed their pets and use fish supplies to clean the tank. When they’ve mastered these tasks perhaps they will be ready to take on a pet that needs more personal care and attention.

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