Having a childhood pet is a rite of passage, a valuable experience that helps children to grow and learn and offers experiences that will help to shape them for their futures. Some parents may baulk at the idea of introducing an animal into their home, but when deciding whether to take on a pet, parents should consider the many benefits that pet ownership brings to children in their formative years – check out below the many benefits to childhood development that pets bring. Pet ownership teaches responsibility Children who are allowed to keep a pet learn the importance of taking on and fulfilling responsibilities. If children are allowed a caged pet, they should be responsible for ensuring that the cage is kept clean and safe for their pet to live in, while those who are allowed to keep a cat should be made to ensure their pet is fed and watered as necessary. Young dog owners can be asked to take responsibility for walking their pet, although the kinder parent might offer to pick up the poo! Kids will have to learn about caring for your baby chinchilla or hamster to ensure that the animal is treated well. Pets help children feel secure In a world where playground friendships come and go and petty rivalries can leave young people feeling a little lost, there is a big benefit in having a furry friend at home. Many children see their pets as friends, sharing stories with them is a way in which they can offload and feel heard when they are in the midst of a stressful situation. Spending time stroking and caring for animals has also been proven to reduce stress levels (hence why there are dedicated services bringing pets to older people and those suffering from long term illnesses) so pets really do provide children with a source of love and comfort that is constant when they are facing challenges in the outside world. Kids and pets can exercise together With concerns rife about the decline of active pursuits in modern family life, getting a pet can be a great way to create opportunities for exercise. Children who are allowed a dog have an ongoing reason to get outdoors and be active. Walking is stress relief for dogs, and ensuring that their pet has its daily stroll is one way to encourage kids to move more. Playing games such as fetch, throwing balls and dog toys is a fun way for children to improve their overall health and enjoy the benefits that an active lifestyle brings. Pets help children understand life Pets invariably have a shorter lifespan than humans (unless, of course, you decide to get a parrot, which can live for 75 years, or a tortoise, which could reach 150!) so for many children the loss of a pet is their first introduction to the circle of life. While parents may be tempted to avoid getting a pet because they do not wish their children to suffer the loss of something they love, experts believe that dealing with the loss of a pet can be helpful in preparing children for the inevitable losses they will face in later life – even the death of a goldfish can create an opportunity for a conversation that will help children understand the world around them a bit better. Tempted to get a pet? If you like the idea of bringing the benefits of pet ownership into your household there are a number of things to consider before you take the plunge and buy that pet. Think about how much time and effort you are willing to commit to your new addition; low maintenance pets may be better for families who already have heavy demands on their time. It is also important to think about the economic impact of owning a dog. There is no doubt they are expensive, but if you think smartly about the purchases you make, you can save money. For example, using a review site like VetsRecommend could help you be money-savvy when choosing products for your dog. If you holiday away from home, think about what arrangements you would make for your pet in your absence; could a neighbour care for a cat? Would you take a dog along in the car? Don’t forget that stress relief for dogs’ products can make car travel a happier experience for your pet. Look into the costs of pet healthcare, such as vaccinations and grooming, are these affordable for your family? Can you afford to insure your pet to cover potentially high vet bills? Where would you get your pet from? Do you want to buy from a reputable pet supplier or are there opportunities in your area to re-home pets that have been previously abandoned? Perhaps you are even considering adopting an exotic pet such as a hedgehog? In which case head to this website to learn more about feeding your prickly companion. Once you have the answers to all these questions, you are ready to bring a new member into your household, something for which your children will be eternally grateful.