Whether dog, cat, hamster or guinea pig – for many children a pet is a long-cherished heart’s desire. Pets can be playmates, comforters and faithful companions for a child for many years and therefore also have a Positive influence on the development of the child.  However, not every pet is equally suitable for every age or family situation. To ensure that the child and the animal are safe in contact with each other and feel comfortable, several things should be considered before buying.

Pets Children - Boys feed dwarf rabbits in the garden.

Pets For Kids – How Do I Know If My Child Is Ready To Be A Pet?

If a visit to the zoo is a must on every weekend and a holiday on the farm is an absolute thing, the desire to have your own pet is certainly not surprising. But when is a child ready to have a pet?

Pets for children (small) – general age recommendations

To find the right pet for your family you can read here https://petswer.com or , you can first use the general age recommendations as a guide:

  • 3 to 6 years: At this age children should not be responsible for the pet. However, with parental supervision and support, they can make contact with pets such as cats or guinea pigs. Small children should always be under supervision and should not be left alone with known benign pets.
  • 7 to 9 years: Schoolchildren can be gradually introduced to certain tasks by helping their parents take care of the pet slowly. At this age, children slowly learn the basic skills necessary to perform certain tasks when caring for an animal: To weigh the daily portion of food or to understand the rhythm of the animal’s sleep, your child should already be able to understand the numbers and read the clock.
  • From 10 years: Older children can already take on more tasks in caring for animals. From the age of 11 or 12, for example, they can also go for a walk with the dog alone. From puberty onwards, they also have a better understanding of less docile or nocturnal animals, and are better able to consider the needs of animals.

Before buying, you need to make sure that no family member suffers from allergies. Not only dog and cat hair, small animal feces or mites on the feathers of birds can also provoke an allergic reaction.

When can my child be responsible for pets?

These recommendations are based on the basic empirical values for the mental and motor development of children, which provide important information for dealing with animals.

Young children often lack the necessary gross and fine motor skills, which is why they can still be a little awkward when dealing with animals. You should also consider the individual level of development of your child. The following questions can provide information about whether your child can already bear responsibility for the pet:

  • Has your child tidied up his own room?
  • Does your child wash their hands regularly without being asked?
  • Is your child sticking to the rules and agreements you have made together?
  • Does your child understand the difference between playtime and rest time?

Always make sure that your child does not accidentally touch the animal roughly or pull the animal’s fur. When an animal feels depressed, it can react in unexpected ways. Show your child the best way to touch or stroke the pet. If your child learns the correct behavior early on, dealing with a pet is safer and the animal also feels more comfortable.

What pets are for children?  – The father and daughter feed the dog together.

The right pet – What pets are suitable for a particular age group?

As discussed on petswer.com, when choosing the right pet, it is not only care and time that is needed, as well as the costs that must be incurred for the purchase of it for the whole family that are taken into account. It is also worth remembering that not all animals are equally docile or love to be stroked. If these factors are included in the selection, the following recommendations can be derived:

Dogs and cats as pets for children

Due to its trusting, loyal and playful nature, dogs are considered ideal companions for humans. The upbringing of the family dog is always in the hands of parents. However, under supervision, even small children can keep and play with dogs. As a parent, you must ensure that the two playmates do not go beyond the limits and do not play around with high spirits. A dog spends a lot of time: As a family, you need to be prepared to plan several hours a day for sports and play, depending on the breed. Children are not yet capable of performing such a task on their own. However, from puberty onwards, they can gradually take on greater responsibility for a dog, for example, daily walks.

Cats are equally trusting and love to be cuddly, but much more independent. Sensitive and proud velvet paws decide for themselves whether they want to be stroked and are reluctantly urged to hug. Therefore, children should be taught how to handle cats sensitively and carefully: They must understand that animals do not want to be disturbed in their peace and may also defend themselves from unwanted caresses. 

But with the help of their parents, even preschoolers can keep cats and play with them. Toys such as a cat fishing rod or a play stick with a spring are well suited, since the cat can be safely occupied from a certain distance. How playful and confident a cat, however, depends on the character of the individual.

age recommendationsfrom 10 to 11 yearsfrom about 6 years
time expenditureabout 2 hours per dayabout 1 hour per day
Compatibility for young childrenNever leave the child and the dog alone, stroking and playing only in the presence of adults.Dealing with cats only together with parents, showing the rules of behavior when stroking and playing.
Suitability as a family pet (depending on breed & character)His nature is friendly, loyal, playful and affectionate. In the mood to hug, as long as he is not suppressed.His gentle nature, love to play, rather independent. Likes to be stroked, but also sets its own boundaries.
single maintenanceYes, perhaps with enough practice and attention from people.Yes, with freelancers. Indoor cats should be kept in pairs at least.
Life expectancy8 to 16 years old12 to 20 years

Animal cages, feeding bowls or bedding should be installed in quiet corners of the apartment or house. In this way, pets get the rest they need and find a resting place where they should not be disturbed.

Small animals as pets for children

Although they are cute and gentle and often take up less space than dogs or cats, caring for and caring for a small animal is not always easy. As prey animals, rabbits and guinea pigs often look restless, but can become more trusting if handled carefully. A docile rabbit is okay to stroke, but still does not like to be carried and carried around. As a result, the trust that has been so hard-built can be lost.

Especially in the case of small children, there is a high risk that the animal will defend itself from rough handling or falling. Even a shy guinea pig does not like to be stroked.  If they are carried on the lap and stroked, they fall into a state of shock that should not be confused with tameness.

You have to work with your child to gain the trust of the animal. Many small animals become docile, meaning that they can be fed by hand. In this way, you ensure an attitude that is appropriate to the species and is stress-free that your child will also enjoy. Older children and adolescents are already more patient and understand the needs of small animals and therefore prefer nocturnal animals such as hamsters, which are easy to observe. In order to avoid unnecessary stress for small animals, it is important for children to learn how to properly treat their pets early on.

Guinea pigRabbithamster
age recommendationsfrom about 8 yearsfrom about 10 yearsfrom about 14 years
Specificitya great urge to move; allows additional freewheelinga great urge to move; allows additional freewheelingnighttime; requires enough space to hide, dig, and build
Activitieswatch, feedwatching, feeding, petswatch, feed
single maintenanceno (very friendly)no (very friendly)Already
Life expectancy5 to 8 years8 to 10 years2 to 4 years

Even with careful handling of the pet, one or another scratch is often unavoidable. Also thoroughly clean small and shallow wounds and, if necessary, apply disinfectants that do not burn.

Pets for Children - slowly introduce children to responsibility for an animal.

Birds, fish and exotic animals as pets for children

Such popular bird species as budgerigar and walnut require a lot of space and the ability to fly freely in space. Although most decorative birds are wary and “talkative”, they do not like physical contact. Fish are also suitable only for observation: although an aquarium can provide a calming effect, it nevertheless quickly becomes unattractive, especially for small children.  Exotic pets are very attractive for children, but they are not always recommended for families due to the demanding conditions in which they are kept and the risks involved.

Rules for animal husbandry – how to introduce responsibility to my child?

When a new pet joins the family, it is a fun and exciting day for children and parents. Having a pet gradually teaches the child to be responsible and attentive to the needs of others.

Here are some tips on how to slowly introduce the child to responsibility for animals:

  • Find out together: Care and time required for different animal species can vary greatly. Find out about the housing conditions of each of them and discuss as a family the routine tasks that you may face. Bringing a pet into the family is not a decision that can be taken lightly. Also discusses long-term responsibilities. After all, the pet will accompany you for a long time and believe in your care.
  • Start with small tasks: Certain aspects of care may still be too difficult, especially for young children, such as a thorough cleaning of the cage. A child of pre-school age can already perform smaller tasks in caring for an animal, such as filling a feeding bowl or gently brushing fur.
  • Support your child: At first, children need a lot of guidance and help, but as they get older they become more aware of their responsibilities. From about the age of 10 to 12 years, children can also act more independently.
  • Exemplify the correct behavior: It is advisable to also show an older child how to properly handle a pet: Explain how to touch and stroke the animal, whether you can take it and when the animal should not be disturbed. It also includes tips on correct hygiene.

As a parent, you are ultimately responsible for the welfare of the animal, but your child can (and should) support you in caring for him. In doing so, they exercise their patience, sense of obligation, and reliability.


Having a pet increases the sensitivity and sense of responsibility of the child. Allowing children to take care of their pets also increases self-confidence and self-esteem, as well as gains the trust and affection of the animal. However, not every species of animal is equally suitable as the “first” pet for children: As a parent, you need to be able to guarantee a farm corresponding to the species and slowly introduce your child to responsibility. In this way you not only fulfill the desires of your child’s heart, but also make sure that the child and the animal feel equally comfortable.

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