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Thinking of Getting a Pet for My 5 Year-old Son.............

I'm trying to decide on what pet, if any, to get for my 5 year-old son. He wants a pet really badly. I don't think that I'm ready for the committment and work that come along with a puppy right now. One of my main issues with one is the chewing on everything and the potty training. I know that my son would really love to have one, though. I really don't like cats at all, so that's not an option. I am thinking more along the lines of a guinea pig. Does anyone have one of these? Does anyone have any suggestions for good pet choices for a 5 year-old? Does anyone know of any breeds of dogs that are not likely to chew, potty train easily, can be kept indoors or outdoors, and are great with children? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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So What Happened?™

Thanks so much for all of the wonderful responses and great advice! You ladies are wonderful! We finally decided on which pet to get, after lots of discussions between my husband and I and lots of research. Saturday we went and got the most adorable little cream colored lab puppy. My son is so crazy about her, as are we. She is just the cutest and smartest little thing! I did fail to mention that I love dogs, and have had labs in the past. My husband and I did about ten different online tests to help us to determine which type of dog was the right one for us. They all came back to the labrador retriever. We decided on a puppy versus an adult dog since my son would be afraid of her if we got her already grown. Since he will get to grow up with her, he will not be afraid of her. She is a lot of work, but she is so worth it. The whole family shares the responsiblity of taking care of her and training her, so it's not all in my lap. I think that she will be a perfect companion to grow up with my son. We will love taking her on camping trips and to the lake, as she will love to swim. Thanks again!!


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My son and his wife had the same type issues that you have when trying to decide a pet for their 2 year old daughter. She loves animals, cats & dogs. They got her a rabbit for Easter. She absolutely loves it. My son said it is so easy to care for. They even bring it 45 miles to my house or the other grandparents house. They transport it in a pet carrier. They have a cage outside that is up off the ground. It stays in the house a lot and is very playful with this 2 year old. Just a thought! My son always had a dog while he was growing up. Boys love dogs. The pet stores or the internet will tell you the best breeds for small children.

Michelle's adivice below is exactly what you need. Get a shelter dog who's already housebroken, past chewing, good with kids, etc. You'll never have a more devoted pet.

You might wana try some fish at first to see if he will be responsible enough to feed them every day and eventually graduate to another critter maybe later on an outside puppy..(?) Good Luck...

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I agree with the turtle, I had one when I was little, well actually he just died about 5 years ago, so he was at least 17 or 18 years old. It is definitely a long term pet if you get one. Very fun for a boy (or girl ) to feed crickets and grasshoppers too although there is "turtle food" as well.

I have a dog now that get along well with the kids. Got the dog as a puppy (7 weeks)when my youngest kids were 6 months old, and he was very easy to crate/house train. I have a mini-dachshund.

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Any puppy is going to have issues. You might be better off with an older dog who's already been trained. There are plenty of really loving kid friendly dogs out there in shelters that desperately need good homes. We have a setter and she's really good with our little girl. Retrievers are also very kid friendly dogs.


Like many other responses....check out your local animal shelter. Most of the dogs there are potty trained and need loving homes. If you do decide to get a puppy...crate training is the best way to potty train. Just like a kid...being consitiant with everything will help. Most all puppies will chew because they are teething. Labs are wonderful with kids you just have to give them there on chew toys. They train well and our very loving and loyal!! I also read where rats are great pets..I know that sounds yuck, it did to me too. But I actually read on this site where a lot of people have them and they make great pets for kids. Good Luck!

My son and his wife had the same type issues that you have when trying to decide a pet for their 2 year old daughter. She loves animals, cats & dogs. They got her a rabbit for Easter. She absolutely loves it. My son said it is so easy to care for. They even bring it 45 miles to my house or the other grandparents house. They transport it in a pet carrier. They have a cage outside that is up off the ground. It stays in the house a lot and is very playful with this 2 year old. Just a thought! My son always had a dog while he was growing up. Boys love dogs. The pet stores or the internet will tell you the best breeds for small children.

My advice is don't get a puppy. Adopt an adult dog from a shelter. Adult dogs are already potty-trained, are out of the chewing-up-everything stage, plus you are rescuing a dog who may otherwise never get adopted, because adult dogs are less adoptable than cute puppies (don't know why, because they grow into adult dogs anyway). Then you don't have to worry about the difficult puppy stage which also takes a lot of time, and if you and your husband both work full time and have a child, I know that time is not always abundant! Lots of dogs are good with children - the shelters should be able to help and you can also look up breeds online to see if they are good with children. Do a LOT of research on breeds before making the decision to bring a dog home, because pets are not disposable, they are family members, you don't get rid of them if it doesn't work out like you hoped. In my opinion, if you are getting the dog "for your son" and not mainly for yourself (for yourself as in you would want a dog for yourself even if you didn't have a child), then 5 is a little young, unless it is really going to be yours and your husband's dog. But please, if you get a pet, make sure you are getting him or her because you want a new family member and you want to give a chance at a good life for the animal - not just because you want a "toy" for your son to play with. And only get a dog if you and your husband have the time and desire to give him or her the attention dogs need, and the money for vet bills, and of course keep him indoors with the family, not outside. I don't have much advice about guinea pigs because I've never had one, but I can tell you about a friend that had one...the cage smelled really bad, so you would have to be willing to clean it very frequently. The guinea pig was so adorable and very affectionate and loved to be held and made little happy noises, and I was glad this person held the guinea pig a lot and gave him attention instead of just letting him sit in a cage all day, lonely, with no interaction. However, the bad part there is he did sometimes bite, which would not be good for a child. If you do get a guinea pig, try to adopt one from a shelter instead of buying one from a pet store. Bottom line, if you and your husband are the ones that want a dog, go for it. If it's really only your son that wants the dog, then wait until he is older and is responsible enough to give the dog the attention and care it deserves. Good luck!

Maltese. They are smart & can be trained easily. Ours has a cute & funny personality yet is very sweet. Nibbles on our 5yo & barks at him but that's only in "self defense!" They play well together. Maltese are not outside dogs because of their size & fragility & because they are not afraid of anything! Loves people.

I got a puppy for my 5 year old and what a mistake! They love each other very much but I have no shoes,- he chews them all and he has started on the furniture. As for a guina pig they can be very nice but it depends on your five year old. My brother hugged ours to death about this age. Literally, he died. There are a lot of older dogs, maybe 2 years old or so that are out of the puupy stage that need a home. My eldest dog we got when she was 2. She fits in with the family and loves the children. She is just fantastic. We got her from a fmaily that moved to CA and could not take her with them as they would be in apartments there. She is a mix of lab and sharpei and she has been the best dog and the kids just love her. Good luck and hope this helps!

On our son's 5th Birthday we got him a guinea pig. One of our older sons Teachers was given one and she already has 2 in her class. She knew Seth was wanting one because he visited hers every chance he got. He was so excited he was so good to her feed her everyday made sure she had water, played with her all the time. We had her about a year and half and she died. Our whole family was crushed we all cried dad included. Come to find out she was already 4 years old when we got her and guinea pigs live around 5-6 years. We got a new one a few weeks later. I made sure it was still a baby. 8 weeks old is how old they are usually when the pet stores get them. They are fairly big I mean they don't look like babies. It does take a little time to get then used to you. We have never been bitten by either of them they are a great pet. We just love ours. We have a basset hound great kid dog. 2 cats a rabbit and our guinea pig. Good luck with your decision.

Hi S.,
I've been in your situation and have gone through all the pets and here's my advice on each one to maybe help you make a decision.
Dog - LOTS of time needed and after about two months, if you're lucky, it becomes your time it gets.
Cats - litter box is beyond a pain and smelly and cats get 'catitudes' over time.
Guinea pigs - great, but can tend to bite if you aren't doing what they want to do.
Hamsters - personally, NEVER AGAIN - they bite and never really become very friendly.
Ferrets - once they are descented, they're alright, but can get aggressive and nip.
Rabbits - eat EVERYTHING even though they can be housebroken.
Rats - great choice - live in a contained cage, very personable and haven't had any that bite. Once you get over the tail, they're great, but also make sure you buy a young one.
Turtles (we had red eared slider) - VERY hard to keep their environment clean and never become a 'pet' to love and play with. Great to watch
Fish - well, they're great to watch but can't exactly 'play' with them.
Snakes - not for me and never will be so can't say :-)
Horses - don't think you're in that arena :-)
Birds - don't know, haven't actually had those yet.
Frogs - kind of like fish, can't really play with them.
Well, I think that's about it. If you have any specific questions feel free to ask as I've been through 'most' of the gammet. Hope this helps...I'll be praying for you :-)

ONLY get him a pet if YOU are willing to take care of it. Children are notorious for not being able to handle the responsibility (with RARE exceptions) of exercising, feeding, cleaning cages/animals, etc. I would talk to your local veterinarian. Vets are a wealth of info and if you decide to go the dog route, most will know of a dog or two that would work for your family. There is no 'one breed' that will fit everything you describe....especially not as a puppy....individual dogs - yes, but not a breed. Other factors to strongly consider with a dog are shedding and exercise requirements. Not enough exercise for the breed often leads to behavior problems. Guinea pigs require frequent cage cleaning, at the very least once a week. Many of them are also ill-tempered (again, there are individual exceptions) and will bite little fingers....some also don't see as well and will mistake a little finger for a carrot or a chewing block. With the reptiles (turtles, snakes), many carry Salmonella sp, which can be transmitted to humans. Good handwashing and hygiene can limit this transmission, but most 5 yos don't have "good" skills in that area.

I'm not trying to scare you about animals. I just want you to make an informed decision....and a pet should be a family responsibility, not a child's. (After all, the parents usually end up paying for it and taking care of it.)

Good luck, mama!

I recommend a turtle. It is a cheap and easy set up and it does teach responsibility before moving up to something more time consuming. All puppies are going to require a high level of attention and all of them tear things up.

You could get a plastic tank from the pet store and have him catch a lizard in the back yard. Feed it live crickets or mealworms (which last longer) that you can buy from the pet store also. This is a good way to teach responsibility and is extremely inexpensive! Guinea pigs and gerbils are a nice idea, but keep in mind they require nesting material and a larger tank. FYI, mice stink so I wouldn't recommend them. GOOD LUCK!

You might wana try some fish at first to see if he will be responsible enough to feed them every day and eventually graduate to another critter maybe later on an outside puppy..(?) Good Luck...

Michelle's adivice below is exactly what you need. Get a shelter dog who's already housebroken, past chewing, good with kids, etc. You'll never have a more devoted pet.

I worked for 15 years as a vet tech, and have lived with pets for as long as I can remember.

Only get a 5-year-old a pet that you like, because it is going to be your responsibility. No matter how sincere their "I'll take care of it" is at the beginning, they just aren't ready for the day-in, day-out responsibility of a pet.

Guinea pigs have to have the bedding in their cages changed several times a week because it becomes soaked with their urine. Plus, rodents have musk glands, and while a guinea pig's "aroma" isn't as strong as, say, a ferret, it is still there. We have had numerous rodent pets, and love them, but we didn't get them until my daughter was in middle school, and old emough to keep up with their maintenance herself.

Reptiles are also high maintenance. They're cold-blooded, so lizards and snakes have to have heat sources in their cages. You can't just stick a lizard in a fish tank and feed it bugs. It will die.

I'd suggest a goldfish. Make him responsible for feeding it every morning before school. If you put it in a fishbowl, the bowl will need to have a 50% water change about once a week. He can do that - just stir up the water, dip out half (along with the crud that you stirred up), and pour more water in. If you get an aquarium with a filter and pump, you'll still need to do partial water changes, but the filter will catch a lot (but not all) of the crud. If you get a filter, get the kind that hangs on the side of the tank, not the kind that goes under the gravel. The kind that hangs on the side of the tank is much eaiser to clean, while cleaning the under-gravel type means disturbing the gravel, and releasing much of the crud back into the water, which defeats the purpose of having a filter.

Puppies chew because they're teething. They are born without teeth, get baby teeth, lose those, and get permanent teeth, just like people. You have to be sure to provide appropriate items for them to chew on. Don't give them old shoes to chew on - they'll think that all shoes, including your good ones, are chew toys. Same with stuffed toys - if your son sleeps with a teddy bear ot other stuffed toy, don't give the dog one to chew on. He may think your son's stuffed toys are ok to chew on.
You don't often see the lost baby teeth, because they usually get swallowed. Don't worry - that's normal for animals. But any dog, regardless of age, that doesn't get sufficient attention and exercise will engage in destructive behavior - chewing, soiling the house, etc.

What breed to get depends a lot on your living situation. You don't want to put a big dog in an apartment, or keep a working dog indoors all the time.
Toy breeds (pocket-size dogs) are generally not good pets for small children. They tend to be high-strung, and don't tolerate the somtimes rough handling that children are prone to.
If you have a big yard, herding dogs make good kid pets.
Border collies and Australian shepherds, for example. They do require frequent brushing, however.
Hunting dogs sucha as labs or golden retrievers are also generally good with kids. Golden retrievers also require frequent brushing, and labs shed heavily during the summer.
If you need a smaller house-size dog, I'd recommend a daschund or rat terrier. Jack Russell terriers (if your son watches "Wishbone," that's what Wishbone is) are very good-natured, but they are also very high-energy dogs - if they don't get lots of chances to run, they become neurotic.
While the spaniel and setter breeds are pretty, they've been bred for looks for so long that many of them have developed personality issues that would make them poor choices for a child's pet.
No matter what kind of dog, you get, basic obedience training is a MUST. Every dog needs to know and respond to "Come, "Heel," "Sit," "Stay," and "Down." It could save their lives. My daughter's dog got out the other day, and was heading for the street, when she yelled, "SIT!" His butt immediately hit the driveway, keeping him from running into the path of an oncoming car.

I wouldn't get a rodent - like guinea pigs. They are up all night, noisy, and STINK. Besides, they bite too.

And if you don't want the care of a dog, don't get one. A five year old wouldn't be consistent in caring for an animal, in my opinion.

If you have a fenced in yard and want a dog, either get an older dog that's already housebroken from the pound, and leave her outside during the day when everyone is gone, or get a puppy and crate train it. A dog won't use the bathroom in it's bed, so it will kick up a fuss when it has to go while it's in the crate.

I highly recommend a miniature daschund. I have 2 and they don't chew on our things and they love being outdoors! However, you must get them rawhide to chew on since they are teething! Of course, they like to come in some too! They are great w/ our 3 girls. I would get a puppy for sure! Good luck!

If you do decide to go with a dog, try going to a Humane Society or animal shelter and adopting a young dog that has already been "potty" trained, and maybe also passed the chewing stage. Perhaps around 1 or 2 years old. Just tell the shelter what you are looking for and they may be able to match you with a dog. Mutts are usually better health-wise than a pure bred too. And a dog from a shelter will have already been spayed/neutered and gotten all of the shots & care it needs (tho they still need some yearly).

How about a Betta fish? They are a little more fun than a goldfish and super easy to care for. You can find all different colors. They can go in a vase or small bowl in your son's room and don't require a filter. A bigger aquarium isn't that much work once you get it established, but you will be the one to change the water. It would be too difficult for a 5 year old. We have also had good experiences with guinea pigs. Good luck. I think having pets is an important childhood experience.

Getting any puppy is like having another child. It will need constant attention & time for training. I suggest getting an older dog that is already trained & good with kids. Look to you local adoption agency. They can match the kind of dog you are looking for.

Labs or golden retriver are both good with children but they both like to dig like most dogs do but if use a crate for potty training you can also keep the puppy in it when you leave it home by it self that way it can only chew on what you put in the crate for it to chew on also its safer using a crate to keep it in when you are not home and as far as outside you can get a kennel and put wire under so it can't dig up you yard or dig out we have it big dog in a kennel two small dogs in a pen under our car port and one dog on a chain and one dog we keep in the house and I use a crate on her a lot small dogs don't seem to work well with small children you need a dog that will let a child do almost anything without bitting them and Labs and golden ret. are good for that also we had one when my children we young and the dog wouldn't let anyone mess with my kids this Lab slept in my daughters bed he got most of the bed and we got him used he was about 1 1/2 years old the only bad habit he had was if we left him alone in the house he either chewed up shoes or toys but only if we left him in the house alone if we were there he didn't do it but Labs are very good for children but they need to be trained not to jump up on people and be careful about an older dog cause they might bite and can still chew and they might not be house broken just don't get a pit bull and there are some other breeds that don't do real well with small children I have never seen a Lab that was not good with kids and I am 65 years old and a animal lover we have had about everything chickens, ducks, hamstirs, dogs, cats, goats,rats,turtles,snakes, lizers,rabbits, and I raise Mini Snauzers. excuse my spelling I am tired can't think straight

guinea pigs can be lots of work. they have cat like personalities in that they don't always want you around or to be cuddled. and the cage cleaning is the worst because they just poop so damn much. maybe you would enjoy an easier reptile? a small turtle or a lizard that eats fruit or crickets would be pretty easy upkeep. clean the cage every few weeks make sure they have a heat lamp and you're good. you might even learn to enjoy them along with your son.

Hi! Awesome that you are thinking about a pet. We love animals at oue house. You may check into the guinea pig becuase I know that a lot of the "rodent"pets are awake during the night and asleep during the day. I have a wonderful suggestion for a puppy though. Please read before saying no. I think the pit bulls are the BEST pets for kids. Do some research and you will find that they are GREAT family dogs and terriffic with kids! We have 2 of them and a teacup pomeranian. Our oldest pitbull is 9 years old and very patient with my son. Our youngest is 8 months old and has lot of energy to play with my son. Our son is almost 4 years old. He LOVES his dogs. The oldest one sleeps with him at night. Both of the dogs stay in the house and are even left alone in the house during the day while we are at work or out running errands. They have several toys to play with while we're away. The puppy was potty trained almost immediately and stopped having any accidents after about 2 weeks. He chewed a few things at first, but after a few days of teaching him what was his and what wasn't, he stopped. The dogs love other people and other dogs, they play great withe the little pomeranian too. Since they are bigger dogs, my son can play a little rougher with them and they love it. The dogs are both trained to walk on a leash, sit, stay, come etc. We did it all ourselves within a few days. They are really smart dogs. I know they have a bad rap in some places but if you just check into them and maybe get to meet one you will see how loyal, loving and willing to please they are! If you are interested in any more information just send me a message and I will send you all kinds of links to get information. Good luck with your search!

Hi S., from my personal experience of being a pet owner all my life & a previous step mother of 2; I wouldn't recommend a puppy. Just the responsibility of a puppy on top of children is not a wise undertaking when attempting to control your stress level. I would recommend looking into a local rescue association for an older, more mature dog that has some child experience. That also has already been potty trained & will have less stress. The rescue association that I'm familiar with is Doberman Rescue. Against all of hollywood publicity, dobermans are amazing family dogs. The local Contact is ____@____.com Bless, DJ

YOur son needs a pet. Just not yet. Please for the sake of the creature wait until he is at the least about 7. Small children lack the commitment and attention span to have the care of a living creature. If you feel you must then try a small bowl of goldfish. They are easier to care for and do not represent a large commitment of money or time. They only live about two to three years at best anyway. Here is what I did with my oldest kids. We started with research. We got book from the library and read about different pets. We attended a few dog and cat shows as well as going to the local fair to look at other animals. We went to a farm (my dad's) to talk to the farmer about rabbits. We went to zoos and talked to the keepers of birds and reptiles. It took two years, but at the end she was ready to say yes I want to get a labradore retriever. I want a black one and think we should get a male. But.... be aware! My third child decided on a an iguana.

The easiest pets alive are hermit crabs and turtles. We have both (plus dogs, and I've had cats, fish, a hamster and a bird). The hermit crabs are awesome. That's what my 6yr old son got for his birthday this year. He got a crab habitat, and he, my 4yr old son (at the time) and my 2yr old (at the time) son were all able to go and get their own crabs. Those things are the EASIEST pets, and they all can care for their pets themselves and it's not a huge responsibility, so it's a great starter. I didn't think I'd be into them (not a fan of non cute cuddly pets other than turtles), but it's been great. We sometimes forget they're here. You only feed them every 2-3 days, and their water about as "frequently". They don't stink, they don't bite or scratch, and they don't make a mess. And they're SUPER cheap (about $5-7 each)! Also, One little container of food will last forever!

Box Turtles are the next step up. They're fairly low maintenance, but they cost a lot more (not supposed to just pick one off the street...there are laws against that now). They eat fruit that you'd probably already have on hand and slugs that you probably have in your backyard (getting slugs is my husband's job), and you can also get a big thing of food at the pet store for about $6 that will last quite awhile. I've never met a box turtle that wasn't "friendly". I've owned 4 box turtles in my lifetime (wild and store bought), and I've never been snapped at by one even once, but make sure it's actually a box turtle, because some are VERY feisty. They're fun to play with, their great for kids and easy for kids to take care of (especially if you don't have a dog to keep away from the turtle while he's roaming free in the backyard). My kids absolutely love our turtle. In fact, my kids love our turtle and hermit crabs a LOT more than they like our dogs. My 6yr old is just now getting to where he'll actually play with the dogs from time to time, but the others have no interest in him in the slightest, they prefer the other pets, which is fine because they're responsible for their own little pets because they're so low maintenance.
I haven't read others' post, so sorry if I'm being redundant. Hope this has helped some!

SAHM of 4 (boys: 6, 5, 3, and a girl: 10mths)

p.s. Here's a sight to see what kind might fit your family best. Definitely get an older dog that's about 2-3yrs old that's already been around children and is house broken. They're SO much easier, take if from personal experience. And, remember, Take your TIME choosing a dog. Dogs will usually live on avg of 14yrs...that's a long, long time to live with a dog you like but wishing you'd waited for the kind you really want. Research and study up on the dog that you're looking in to. Make sure it's one you'd all be happy with having as a life long (at least for the dog) family member. If you find a puppy that you absolutely love, remember they grow up and most of the time they don't look ANYTHING like they did when they were puppies, and I mean anything. I still think for a first dog, getting an older one is best...even if you want to go for one that's 6-8yrs, you'll only have 1/2 of it's life left with him, but they're usually a whole lot tamer. You also need to make sure they don't have any medical conditions (another reason to study up on the breeds) because most dogs have an issue of some sort, medical (a lot of breeds have specific medical issues that they lean towards), chewing habits, biting habits, just general destruction, dominating, good with children in general, etc. But, also remember that just because it's a certain breed doesn't mean it will definitely be like the avg of that breed.


I wasn't going to chime in, but, as a veterinarian, I feel I must. 5 years old is too young to take full responsibility for any living creature. The respondents who warn that it should be a pet YOU like are correct - you will need to take care of the animal when your son can't or won't. I do not recommend reptiles (or terrapins) for young children ESPECIALLY small turtles. All reptiles potentially carry salmonella and children have a habit of putting everything in their mouth. This is the reason that it is illegal to sell turtles less than 4 inches in diameter. No matter what type of pet you get, encourage regular handwashing after handling the animal (again, especially with reptiles, but also with other animals). Personally, I don't think hamsters are great for kids because they tend to be aggressive and bite. They end up staying in their habitrails all the time for this reason. Rodents are also mostly nocturnal and will run their wheels while the family tries to sleep (this never bothered me, but I am sure it does bother many parents). Also, despite what many people think, even "pocket pets" (guinea pigs, hamsters, mice etc) require regular veterinary care to ensure good health. All rodents are prone to overgrown teeth for instance and each species has it's own set of disease predispositions.

I like the idea of an older dog rather than a puppy if you are leaning that way. HOWEVER - you must consider issues other than walking, clean up and shedding when considering a dog and children. Dogs are dogs and no matter how much we love them and treat them like members of our family, any breed of dog can be dangerous to a child. This is true of the toy and miniature breeds as well as the ever popular Cocker Spaniel. I can't even tell you how many people have come to me about their cocker who got snippy as it aged and they had to get rid of the dog because now it was biting their children - even older children. These are living creatures with their own sets of behaviors, feelings and ways of dealing with life and you must make sure you and your child understand and respect the animals' boundaries. I am sure that none of this solves your dilemma. In short I would say - wait. Get a goldfish in the meantime and expect to replace it fairly frequently. Ever notice that Elmo's Dorothy is never the same fish twice? ;-)

Why not adopt an adult dog? The rescues have awsome programs. They will help match the right dog for your environment. You are right, a puppy is a HUGE responcibility and can be very difficult. No breed will chew less. Some may learn quicker, but that is sucha risk. You won't know if you have a quick learner until you take it home.

So i suggest going to a rescue. They'll help you find an adult or older puppy who is over the chewing stage, potty trained and loves kids!!!! Take your time, meet ots of potentials before desiding!

DO NOT get a guinea pig. They bite and are not that friendly.

If both you and your husband work full time, you are expecting alot of a young dog to hold it's bladder or bowels all day and not be bored and resist chewing things or digging holes under fences. However, mature dogs, that have been raised in an environment that has required that of them already would be more realistic and appropriate.
Call your local Humane Society and tell them your personal life style and ask if they have any dogs that are indoor trained, housebroken, don't chew and are good with children. There are usually quite a few needing loving homes to avoid euthanasia. Sometimes their owners pass away,sometimes military families get sent somewhere they can't take their family pets, and sometimes people get so seriously ill they have to be hospitalized. All of these original homes loved their pets but are forced to part with them and when no one steps up to adopt them they bring them to Humane Societies. Guinea pigs carry too many transmitable things that a 5 year old boy who is not fastitious about hygiene can pick up. Plus the cage has to be changed often or it stinks to high heaven.
Do be honest with yourself about what you are taking on though, it is a lot of extra work. If you are not passionate about pets yourself, you may find it difficult to maintain a pet and the last thing you would want to do is find YOU really dislike the pet ownership thing and your son absolutely adores it. You can't take it away from him when he is in love with it then. You are now required to own it until death, which can be quite a long time.
If you travel as a family often, who will watch the dog when you travel? Who will walk it when it rains or snows? They can cost a lot in vet bills etc, etc.
However, that being said, owning a pet, teaches unconditional love, tolerance, patience, commitment and gives youngsters a friend to whisper secrets to that they know are safer than anywhere else. In short, they are best friends. Only you can weigh the differences of worth. Best of luck, JF

I don't know about a dog yet I would go hamster, fish or maybe even a bird. We live on a farm so our best pets are the goats. They are great and so much fun. My girls get lots of exercise and fun time with them. We have 28 right now. Also my girls (11 & 6) are raising 2 bottle calves, a big resposibility for them but a good one. Good luck and you will pick the right one, I know. T.

Guinea pigs are ok but I had a hard time getting my daughter to change the bedding. Even with weekly changes and no known allergies I would have sneezing fits going in her room. I was skeptical at first but we currently have hermit crabs. The kids (4 & 8) like to let them crawl in their hands or on the carpet. Food, water, and an occasional bath keep these guys happy.

Good Morning - how about an older dog? Spanielsm dachshounds, Jack Russell terriers, and the like, are good with children. Ty to find one about 2 years old at the Humane Society or Animal Shelter, or any adoption group that may be in your area. Check with a vet for advice too. 5 is a good age to teach responsibility with a pet too. Good luck dear.

One thing to remember is the space they'll need when they're full grown. Go to your local SPCA and adopt a dog..they can help you find one just right for you...we did it a couple of years ago with great success! They also have a history on the dog & it will have all the shots & "fixed" so it won't reproduce. There is a fee but you'll pay a lot less at the SPCA ! A border collie or lab is the best but there are many others out there waiting to have a good home. Most of them are already trained for outside potty useage...good luck...please check out the SPCA...it's a wonderful place & will let you have a "visit" with any of the prospects...if the dog interacts well with the family that's the one to get!!

Hey S.,
Dogs are great, but you are right they require a lot of training. I grew up with a germant shepard, and now we have golden retreivers. However, I have also had hamsters and guinea pigs. My favorite was my teddy bear hamster. They are about half the size or smaller than a g.p. and have long fur. Plastic cages are easier to clean as opposed to the old metal cages. They tend to be more active at night. If you do decide to skip the smaller pet and go straight to the dog, you might want to consider finding an adult dog, maybe that didn't quite make the cut for a seein eye dog program. These dogs are wonderful, trained and friendly. They will be large breed, most likely golden retriever or lab. Granted you miss the cute puppy stage but, you are also eliminating a lot of extra work for yourself. Your son will love the dog no matter if come as a puppy or an adult. Let me know what you decide. Thanks, J. P.


We just got a puppy for our 4 year old daughter and they are best friends - but you are right the chewing and potty training is a lot of work. If I had to do it again I would rescue a dog that is a year or two old that already has the training and is out of the chewing phase.

I am glad we did get a dog for her though - because like you, my husband and I both work and she is an only child. We also plan on having more, but for right now we don't and the dog gives her a companion to play with other then us adults. Good luck in your search! I hope it works out!

S., I have 3 mini dacshunds (doxies) and they are the sweetest pets I have ever owned. They are great with my grandchildren and love people. They are and were very easy to potty train. I have one that I have raised from 6 weeks of age and potty trained him the first week I had him, (pee pads as well as outside). The other two are rescue babies that I have had for a year now and they were not fully potty trained when I got them, but are now and were within the first week I had them just by watching the other one and by taking them out regularly. I have not had any chewing from any of them that was not treatable by telling them no! They are all inside pets and I kennel them during the day while my husband and I are at work. They are the most precious pets, very loving and always willing to please the owners.

Good luck with your finding him something, but he would love a doxie. They also love to sleep with you.

D. M

my kids are 2, 3, and 9. we have a healthy happy guinea pig, and all the kids have a great time with him. i don't leave them unsupervised when he gets outside time, but they are very good with feeding him treats, petting him and none of them try to break the rules like picking him up by themselves, as i tell them he will go back into the cage if they do, so they are very happy petting and feeding him while he's on the floor or in his outside pen. i think your son could handle it, at least if you are very watchful. he is old enough to learn small responsibilities that come along with a pet, and he will most likely love feeling big when you tell him what a good job he's doing. there are tons of guinea pig sites with all the info you might need. and best of all, no house training necessary! you just clean out his cage once a week...

We just adopted a guinea pig and gave it to our 3 kids on Easter. I think it is a very low maintenance animal. It simply needs to be given fresh water and food daily and change it's bedding weekly. My daughterm age 8 is the primary caregiver for "Piglet", but my sons, age 2 & 4 handle her real well and really enjoy her. When they are happy they make a squeaky kind of sound to let you know. I wasn't entirely sold on the idea of bring ing one home at first, but now find myself taking her out of the cage to pet her.

J. Z

A Hamster is friendlier than a guinea pig. I got one for my son when he was about 5 and it never tamed down.

Guinea Pigs are great pets for children (they are the least likely of the small animals to bite). I'm a preschool teacher, and they are my pet of choice for the classroom.

If a dog is something you're really considering, then I would avoid getting a puppy. ALL puppies will chew and have potty accidents... it doesn't matter what breed they are. If you get a dog, look into adopting an adult dog that has already been potty trained and is past the chewing stage. Honestly, though, it doesn't sound like a dog would be the best bet for your family right now. ALL dogs require exercise and some training. They are a really big commitment. For now, I would go with the Guinea pig.

P.S. If you do decide to go with a puppy, please research where you get it from. Most puppy stores get their dogs from puppy mills and back yard breeders. If you want to get a puppy, find a breeder who does health testing (not just a vet check... look for OFA certifications). There are so many people out their who just breed puppies because they happen to have two adult dogs. And this can lead to lots of health and temperment problems. Avoid breeders who breed "rare" dogs (usually not rare at all, just a breeder looking to make $$) and breeders of "designer" dogs (which is really just a fancy word for mutt or mixed breed... don't get me wrong, I love mutts and own 2 of them, but there are thousands of mixed breed dogs dying in shelters every day and there's no need to support people who want to produce more)... anyway, sorry to go on, but I'm just really passionate about dogs.

It would be better to get a puppy once it is potty trained that is all you have to deal with. With a guinea pig is that they have to be cleaned up after every day and if not will start stinking. When someone walks into your home they will smell the guinea pig. A dog will help protect your home. Plus you don't have to get a dog so young there are ones out there that are already potty trained and everything you just have to look in the want ads and call for them.

We have a yorkie. She is not a mini or a teacup. We have a 4 year old little girl, so the breeder recommended 6-8 pounds so our daughter could run and play with her and not have to worry about hurting her. She does not shed, even though you think she would with the long hair. Chewing was not a problem for us. I told the breeder that I wanted a calm dog and she picked this one for us, and she's great. House training isn't so bad as long as you are consistent and use a crate. We got her from greenacres puppies in Bessie, OK. Greenacrespuppies.com

Go to your local animal shelter. If you get a dog that's a little older they are much easier to train and some are already house broken. They can tell you there which dogs are really good with kids.

Have you thought about getting a dog that is a little older and already potty/house trained? We got our dog from a shelter when she was about 6 mo old. I won't say she was always an angel, but it was much less work to get her acclimated to her new home than a younger puppy. There are so many good dogs out there who need a home and a friend:) Our son is now almost 2, and our dog is his best buddy! They play together so well, and we can trust her 100% with him. There's just something about dogs that have been rescued, they seem to know that you have saved them and are so grateful to have someone to love. Almost all the people I have talked to that have rescued a dog feel the same way. I'm not sure what kind of breed our dog is, we call her "the humane society special", but she is one of the best decisions we have ever made! I hope this helps! Good luck!

If you call the local humane society and give them your specifics they could very well have what you want. Since you want no chewing, an older dog would be best and they will just LOVE and need a chew bone for their teeth. We got a stray dog that was already house trained too. She has worked out great for us.

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