Age Appropriate Pets
Choosing A Pet: Which One Is Best For Your Age?
Do you dream of bringing home a puppy or a kitten? Have you pleaded and even begged your parents, made wild promises about how much your would love and take care of your new little creature. Before you dive into pet ownership, it is best to know what pet will be right for you. There are many factors that determine the right choice. One of the first and foremost considerations, however, is your age.
The Toddler Years: 1 to 2 year olds
Toddlers are innately curious creatures and explore their world through touch. Toddlers are spontaneous beings who are learning how to manage impulse control: the urge to grab, hit, push, throw, bite—you name it. While this is a normal developmental milestone, it is one that should be taken into consideration when choosing a pet. At this age, a tolerant pet along with careful supervision are required. Most animals don't like having their fur or ears tugged, feel threatened if little hands are grabbing their food or water and could be hurt by foreign objects sinking into their aquarium!
The Preschool Age: 3 to 5 year olds
Guinea pigs and rabbits are as common at preschools as crayons and blocks. This is because preschoolers are developing empathy, love to help and know how to follow simple instructions, and have (nearly) mastered impulse control. Guinea pigs are very social, just like most of you 3 to 5 year olds out there, and even squeak when their favorite person enters the room. They like to be held and rarely bite, making them an ideal match for the preschool crowd.
The Elementary School Age: 5 to 10 year olds
Small pets like gerbils, hamsters, and fish provide the elementary school bunch with a great opportunity for developing responsibility for a small pet, as long as there is adequate supervision. You can learn to measure food and feed your pet, fill water bottles, and clean cages and bowls. The reward? Being able to play with your well-cared for pet and to share in the responsibility of ownership. Better yet, demonstrating that you can handle a small pet will prepare you for owning a larger pet one day. This is also a great time to develop good hygiene habits around your pet to keep you both healthy!
Middle School Age: 10 to 13 year olds
Now you are ready! By the time you reach middle school, you are capable of handling greater responsibility, can focus sustained attention on proper pet care and even participate in learning how to train your pet. You can reliably handle feeding your pet, cleaning your cat's litter box, and walking your dog. So, make those promises to your parents and search together for the right breed of cat or dog for your family. Most importantly, be sure to follow through so that your new puppy or kitten is a happy addition for everyone in your family!