Decide on the proper size. Before ever going out to bring a pet into the family, you need to know these limits. Would your kids care for a smaller or larger pet better? If you are renting, what type of pets are allowed? Does the size of the pet affect your monthly rent or mortgage? Will your child want to hold the pet or just pet him? Does your family prefer a caged pet or a larger one that's free to roam the house, like a cat or dog? If you have desire for a larger pet, like a horse, do you have an appropriate amount of room? These are the type of size questions you should consider.
Research breeds for compatibility. No matter if you are adopting a dog, cat, hamster, or other animal breed can make a difference. Some breeds are better with children than others. For instance, we have both a dwarf hamster (Buddy) and a Roborovski hamster (Butterscotch). Buddy bites at times. Butterscotch does not, as Robo hamsters have smaller mouths and do not bite humans. I am the primary handler of Buddy. Anyone can handle Butterscotch without worrying about being bitten...if they can catch him that is. He's the fast one. Hamsters need attention and handling. This is just one reason it's important to consider breeds when adopting pets with kids in the house.
Set up meetings with pets of interest. Once you know which type of pets you want to adopt, make appointments to meet with specific ones you and kids are interested in getting to know. This helps avoid problems with compatibility once you finally take a pet home. Let the kids play with the animals and see how they react. If there will be more than one animal, all animals and people should meet together. This way you can see how well everyone gets along together. If it's not a good match, then you know that pet (or pets) would be better suited to another family. But if everyone hits it off easily, you may have found the perfect addition/s to your family.
Consider the responsibility of your child. How responsible is your child with other aspects of life? Can she take care of an animal properly? Will she? If your kids are not responsible enough to take care of objects, what do you think will happen with an animal? Remember that an animal is very different from a toy. They are living, breathing creatures with feelings and they depend on their owners to care for them. If your child does not care for them, will you? If no one will do this with certainty, instead of deciding which pet is right, you should be telling your child no to having a pet altogether.
Weigh all options before the final decision. Consider all of the aspects mentioned above and more before choosing a pet for your child. Size, breed, compatibility, and responsibility are some of the most important factors when choosing a pet. But there are also many more, such as time, cost of care (including vet bills and pet insurance), and dedication. Before ever deciding on a pet, weigh all the pros and cons to make absolute certain that your child and his pet are compatible and that you are giving the pet a good home.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network