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Relationship Between Children and Pets

Apr 13, 2021 | Child Development

Should you get a pet?

If you already have a pet in your home growing up alongside your children, then you know how rewarding it can be. If you’re considering adding a furry friend into your home, here are some of the reasons why it could be incredibly beneficial for your child’s development.

In general, having the company of an animal improves quality of life for all humans, aids in physical and mental wellbeing, reduces stress, and lowers depression and anxiety rates. But for children specifically, there is even more to be gained. Having a pet can contribute to social and educational development, as it paves the way for increased responsibilities, augments self-esteem, and in many cases, can bring families closer together. How does having a pet accomplish all of this?

Unconditional Love

Whether you bring home a big, fluffy dog or a tiny, little bunny, if treated well, that animal will be sweet, affectionate, and happy to spend time with you and your family. This reciprocation of love between your pet and your child will be something that they remember, and something that helps to aid in their self-esteem. Gaining the love and trust of an animal, who is not required by blood or family ties to love them, will help to foster the idea that they are worthy of love, acceptance, and appreciation.

Communication and Understanding

As much as we’d love it if we could understand animals completely, we can’t. We rely on reading body language, observing habits, and developing a relationship with our pets to understand what they need and like. This non-verbal communication teaches our children how to read social cues, observe their surroundings, and use language other than words to gauge a situation. Additionally, this helps to foster a feeling of respect for others, despite barriers.


Having a pet, no matter how big or small, will inevitably bring more responsibility into the household. Encouraging your child to be a part of that responsibility can help to develop their capacity for caring for someone, and induce feelings of competence. Depending on your child’s age, they may be given simpler tasks like feeding, brushing, or playing with their pet. As children get older, they can be given increased responsibility such as taking them for walks or going to vet appointments. This will help to establish the feeling of “taking care” of someone else’s life, and also boosts feelings of confidence.

What type of animal should you get?

You’ve decided that you want to add a furry best friend into your family life, but what animal should you get? You can’t really go wrong, but the most important thing to remember is that a pet is a commitment. Reiterating this to your child is important, as it’s not something you can just return if you change your mind. They will require time, money, and energy from the whole family, and everyone needs to be on board.


Dogs are AMAZING companions. They are more than willing to give love and affection almost any time of day, and many breeds can be trained quite easily . However, they require a lot of time and energy. They need daily walks, play time, and socialization, all of which require time. If you already lead a busy lifestyle and know you won’t be home most of the day, perhaps a dog isn’t what your family needs. On the flip-side, if you’ve embraced your new work-from-home lifestyle, and the kids seem ready for the extra responsibility, a dog can bring so much love into your life.


Cats have gotten a bad rap, but they are so loving and playful when given a good home. There are definitely cats out there that love a good snuggle, enjoy playing fetch, and go nuts for belly rubs; you would almost think they’re secretly dogs! The nice part about cats is that they’re a little less maintenance. They don’t require daily walks, but still need socialization and play time so they don’t become bored. If you and your family think you have the time to clean the litter box every day and watch some Cat TV with your feline friend, then a cat would make a wonderful pet.

Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Hamsters

Contrary to what you might think, rabbits and their cousins still require quite a bit of maintenance. Daily litter box cleanings, plus toys and play time to avoid boredom are still necessary for these cute furry animals. However, they are incredibly smart, loving, and adorable. They can certainly take up less space if that’s what you need, and can make a great addition to a warm and loving home.

Getting a pet from a shelter can be a great way to see what you can expect from an animal before they’ve come into your home. Many places are able to tell you whether a dog will be good with kids, or if they have any known medical problems. This can be a really good way to make sure you find a pet who is friendly with children before you even take them home.

And if at the end of the day you’ve searched around with no luck, or are nervous that you won’t have enough time to properly care for your pet, you can always get a fish.

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