A celebration of kids and pets

Kids and pets go together. Yes, life would be simpler without either but the rewards from having them outweigh the disadvantages. Having both more than doubles the lifetime of pleasure at watching them interact.

Pets like children. When brought up together, dogs and cats will actively seek out children to cuddle up to, to play with. While some people worry about the pet’s proximity to a baby, adequate adult supervision means there is little danger, if the pet has been socialised with young children prior to a baby coming into the family.

Families often acquire a pet when their children are young. While this may not be the best time, as so much time and energy is directed towards the children (and how much can be left for the pet?), it is a time when our nurturing desires are to the fore. As humans, we have so much love to give, so it makes sense to have both.

Sometimes it is difficult to give, give, give and the pets do get ignored for a little while while the children are small but most families come back on board and return to showering their pets with affection. While we should never employ the pet to be a babysitter, they do make excellent companion, They never seem to tire of the fun and games that children provide.

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Pets can also teach children about nurturing an the responsibility of caring for them.Most kids love the opportunity to feed a pet or give it cuddles. Few, however, like to deal with picking up the poo or emptying the litter box. Then the responsibility falls back to mum or dad. Perhaps this will teach the children not to acquire a pet themselves until they are fully responsible for all aspects of their care.

One of the great joys of being a parent is when a child receives a pet of their own. My boys have each been given a cat (by us – never a good idea to give a pet as a present unless you are the one who’ll be responsible) on their 8th birthday, as I was (man, many years ago!!). The joy on their faces is indescribable.

Watching children grow up and still care for their pets is truly amazing. It may not be cool to hug your parents and you have to be ultra-cool with your mates but with your pet you can be yourself. Teenagers give their pets hugs and tell them secrets, just as they did when they were small.

And then one day, all too soon, the last day of the pet’s life arrives. Just like you, your child sobs. And you know you have brought up a child who will care for the creatures of the world. that has to be a good thing. Children and pets go together.

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  1. I absolutely agree. I grew up with pets and I loved them! It taught me to love and respect, but also to receive unconditional love and unique friendships. I learned what responsibility comes with having pets and dealing with the hard part of loving pets: losing them.

    Now I have a 9 month old daughter and it’s fascinating to see the special and unique bond between her and my dog develop and grow. We make sure our dog doesn’t feel left out or replaced. That is very important. That way the pet won’t experience the baby as something negative.

    Parents need to take their responsibility. They have to think about the consequences and be willing to take those.

    Having said that: friendships between children and their pets are something very special. Nothing compares to that!

  2. Hi Dr Jo,

    My partner and I have been doing a lot of research into to the pros and cons of adding a dog to our young family; our son has just turned 1. Your site and blogs are full of great information that has helped us out a lot and reconfirmed what we originally thought – that pets and kids are a great combination. Now, if I could just find a land lord that is willing to allow dogs!


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