Choosing a pet for your child is a very important decision that will last for many years. Some pets live ten to twenty years or longer, so the pet you choose today may become a lifelong friend as the child grows. Also, having a pet is a great way to teach your child responsibility.
What type of pet you choose for your child will depend on a variety of factors. How old the child currently is plays a role in your choice of pets, as does where you live, how much room you have, and how much time you as parents have too.
You see, when a child is still somewhat young, they won't be able to take care of most pets completely on their own. It's up to the parents to teach the children how to care for and love pets, and parents usually need to do a lot of the work themselves while their children are still young. So the amount of time you, as the parents, has available to devote towards the pet care, and the teaching of both pet and child will be an important part of choosing the proper pet for your child.
The amount of room you have in your home is important too though. It's not easy to have a dog as a pet when you live in a small apartment for instance. Regardless of how big or small the dog may be, it will still need to be taken outside on a regular basis for exercise, fresh air, and potty training.
If you live in a small apartment plus you and your child are not home for long periods of time during the day, this is very hard on a pet dog. The dog may be cooped up alone in an apartment for eight, ten, or even twelve hours a day, and this could cause problems over time because he'll be lonely, and he could resort to unpleasant behavior because of that lonliness and boredom.
In general, dogs are very social creatures. When you get a dog as a pet, you need to be sure you have the time to devote to them. It's also very helpful to have a yard for the dog to play in regularly. If you're getting a dog for your child, you need to be sure your child has the personality needed for that dog too. Since the dog will want a lot of attention, playtime, and loving, the child needs to be open to that kind of relationship.
If your child is more reserved, or not quite the type to devote all their time and attention to a pet, you may want to consider a more independant type of pet for the child instead. Cats for instance, are much more independant than dogs are. They don't mind being alone for many hours usually, and they can be trained to use a kitty box, so they also don't need to be walked outside regularly.
Smaller pets such as gerbils, hamsters, or even fish are often appealing to parents – particularly when they live in small apartments – because there is very little care needed for this type of pet. Unfortunately there is also very little interaction with these types of pets and children. Because the pets don't respond much in any way to humans, the child resorts to only being able to watch the pet do things. They can't actually play with that pet usually. This ends up being boring to a child after awhile, and the feeding, cleaning, and care of the pet becomes a chore they're not always happy with too.
Pets can be a great experience for a child and a way to start teaching responsibility. However, as a parent great care should be taken when choosing a pet, since it may just very well become your responsibility if your child tires of it.