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At some point, many children want a pet. Parents have to think about this carefully. Otherwise anger and disappointment are inevitable. FOCUS family gives tips on how dog, cat and other animal companions do not end in the shelter. And children learn to take responsibility.
- Not every animal is suitable for children.
- Allergy sufferers in particular need to be well informed.
- Children can benefit greatly from animals.
Someone to cuddle. Someone to play with. A companion who always for there is one. Listen patiently. And loves you unconditionally. Almost all children are longing for a pet.
Of course, having your own dog is particularly popular. A little cat is also high on the wish list. A fluffy rabbit or a lively guinea pig are also welcome.
So that the pet doesn’t end up in the shelter
But before parents give their children the wish for a pet, there are a few things they should consider. After all, the new family member should remain part of them, not end up in the shelter. Because that hurts the children’s soul and injures the four-legged friend.
First of all, they have to make it clear to the little ones that an animal means a great responsibility:
- It must be fed and kept clean.
- It takes speech and employment.
- It is a living being with its own needs and feelings.
- Above all, it is not a toy that you can take off the shelf at will and put back in the corner when it gets boring.
Parents often first think about a small animal such as rabbits, guinea pigs or hamsters. Because they take up less space and can be left on their own for a short time than dogs and cats.
Hamsters are cute, but completely unsuitable
First of all, be careful of hamsters: they look cute and are therefore particularly popular with children. However, they sleep during the day and then do not want to be disturbed. But they make noise at night when the whole house is sleeping.
Smaller animals that are more suitable for children are rabbits and guinea pigs. However, both must be handled very carefully.
For one thing, they are frightening and don’t like being touched from above. Because in free Birds of prey are their natural enemies. In addition, they are delicate animals and do not tolerate too much cuddling and squeezing, but this is something that especially small children often do not understand. Rabbits also like to gnaw on power cables and furniture and dig holes in lawns and flower beds.
Nager: Equal and equal joins better
Otherwise, rabbits and guinea pigs are uncomplicated companions if they have enough exercise space in a large cage or, even better, an outdoor enclosure, their home is cleaned regularly and they get a lot of fresh food.
Also important: Both like it sociable and should never be kept alone, because then they wither away due to a lack of social contacts.
The classic combination of rabbit and guinea pig, however, is a myth. The two species are alien to each other. The following applies here: the same and the same goes better – also when it comes to gender. Otherwise the animals reproduce literally "like rabbits".
By the way, birds like canaries and parakeets also wither if they are kept alone. They also need large aviaries, free flights and cuddling with them is also rather difficult. Therefore, they are not necessarily the first choice as a pet for children.
A dog needs to be considered carefully
Of course, his best friend, the dog, is very social, but oriented towards people. This is exactly why a family has to devote a lot of time to it. He has to be well educated to obey his word and good to people. The four-legged friend must be well socialized, especially on children, that is, he must accept the little ones in his pack and also react calmly to any cuddle attacks or noise.
He needs a lot of exercise and address. Leaving a dog at home all day, for example, because the parents work and the children are in all-day school, borders on cruelty to animals. Also, it cannot be denied that a dog can be expensive. Dog taxes, dog liability, good food and visits to the vet quickly add up to a few hundred euros a month.
Also to be clarified beforehand: where to take the dog if the family wants to go to a holiday location where they cannot take the dog with them? There are childcare alternatives that do not overwhelm the often tight family budget?
Bello can be adopted well
It is all the more important to think carefully about buying a dog. A test of whether a child loses interest in the four-legged friend again as soon as the walk has to take place in pouring rain is a dog sponsorship. These offer many animal shelters.
Children can make contact with a dog that is also more than grateful for this attention. Because often animals have bad things behind them. If the dog test is positive, it is especially nice to give a grown-up animal a new home instead of a naturally super-cute puppy.
However, it must also be clarified whether the animal is not so traumatized by its past that, when in doubt, it reacts aggressively to people.
Another plus point of older animals, as hard as it may sound, is that they die earlier. Unfortunately, experience has shown that some children will lose interest at some point. By the time of puberty at the latest, many have little desire to the school to walk the dog – as much as they love him.
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Cats are kings and humans are their servants
For cats as for dogs: They too are often grateful when they are rescued from the animal shelter. However, children must also be made aware that they can be very idiosyncratic. Unlike dogs, they are more of a loner and regard “their” people less as a friend than as a servant serving the food.
They cuddle and play only when they feel like it and sometimes defend themselves against unloved advances with their claws. However, if you feel like it, you are grateful for cuddle attacks and very fond of "your" person.
And it is precisely this closeness that is extremely good for children when the right animal has been found for them and is kept appropriately. Petting animals has been shown to reduce stress levels. Because it lowers blood pressure, the pulse slows down, breathing becomes calmer, the body relaxes.
That is why animals are good for children
Animals also teach children to be considerate of other living beings’ needs and to take responsibility. Taking care of an animal also strengthens the children’s self-esteem and makes them more reliable. They also notice that an unpleasant task has to be taken on in life.
Because who likes to empty a litter box or dispose of the sawdust from the rabbit cage? Children also learn from animals how to deal with rejection and frustration well, because animals do not always do what humans want them to do – this makes them more tolerant and increases empathy with other beings.
Last but not least, children who have animals are usually much more outdoors than sitting in front of any screen. Animals enrich childhood. When parents think carefully about which animal suits their child. And make it clear to them what tasks they will face in the future.
Allergy-free families unfortunately have bad cards
However, there are also animals that are completely unsuitable for children. Reptiles, for example, are very demanding to care for. Many of the turtles, which are particularly popular with children, also excrete Salmonella, which can lead to severe diarrhea, especially in babies and toddlers.
Speaking of health: Before buying an animal, it should be clarified whether a family member has asthma or allergies. Then a pet is unfortunately taboo in most cases. Because, according to the current state of research, hypersensitization, i.e. immunization against the allergens, has little chance of success – on the contrary: there are often other intolerances.
Incidentally, it is not the animal hair itself that triggers the allergies, but proteins from skin flakes, saliva, sebum or urine. Cats in particular secrete many allergens. Even hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs should not live in allergy-free households – especially since the sawdust and hay in their cages are also a nightmare for house dust allergy sufferers and hay fever sufferers.
No alternative: animals with little fur
Some breeders advertise with allergen-free animals. There are dog and cat breeds with little fur. You lose less hair to which the allergens adhere. In studies, however, a hypoallergenic effect, i.e. a very well tolerated effect, has not yet been sufficiently demonstrated, which is why allergists advise caution here too.
The only alternative for animal allergies is an aquarium with fish. However, its maintenance is very complex and complex. Adults then have to take full responsibility. Children can only help a little and cuddling is not.
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