For some parents, allergies or other reasons may hinder animal interactions for your child. But if you’ve also been waiting for your child to grow up a little before introducing a cat, dog, rabbit, fish, or other myriad array of animal, you may wonder what age is best?

Starting Young

You may want your child to be older and remember your pets better, but starting younger is always going to be easier. Your child will learn at an early age how to pet a dog or cat, and how to best handle them, and that’s always going to be better for them and the animal. If you want your pet to grow up alongside your child, even better! A puppy or kitten learns in much the same way about interacting with children, so the younger the better. Most puppies and kittens aren’t going to be weaned from their own family until around eight to twelve weeks of age, and then they can be introduced to children soon after that. Your children may not remember the earlier years of them and Fido or Fluffy together, but that’s what pictures are for! 

Learning Boundaries

If your child is relatively young when you bring a puppy or kitten home, it’s very important to teach them the difference between right and wrong when it comes to handling the family pet. Most pets will be highly tolerant of children and their behaviors, but just because your pet is fine with it, doesn’t mean that it’s right or that another animal will be fine with it. Teaching your children how to pet and hold an animal is a great way for them to start interacting properly with animals. Leading by example and showing them how to hold a dog or cat, and then seeing them try to imitate is the best way to ensure they’re understanding and truly putting the effort into it. If they’re really young, it may be hard to keep their hands to themselves, but keep reminding them how to be gentle and how to pet an animal.  

Starting A Bond

It may seem a little overwhelming having a small child and small pet to care for at the same time, but it can also be highly rewarding. The bond that a child and pet can form is truly remarkable, and your pet can be an instant companion to your growing child. Your children will also learn responsibility, and compassion over the years they grow up together.  

Katie Kyzivat