The Animal League is dedicated to matching pets and families together in forever homes. Adopters must be at least 21 years old to adopt a pet from The Animal League.
Adopting a Pet with Children in the Household
Often the question is raised about how old children should be before adopting a puppy or kitten. Many experts agree that children experience a multitude of benefits from growing up alongside dogs and cats.
Sometimes, the best match for young families is not a puppy or kitten but rather an adult dog or cat. Here are some reasons why:
1. Puppies and kittens are fragile.
They are tiny and can be easily overlooked by young children. This is not only dangerous for the pets, but young children can easily trip and fall over the pets. Small-breed dogs and puppies generally tend to be more nervous than larger breed dogs. This nervousness can lead to the dogs nipping or growling at young children who aren’t aware how to properly interact with small animals.
2. Puppies and kittens have not learned manners yet.
Unfortunately, dogs and cats do not train themselves! Young children are sometimes frightened by the energy level of young pets. Until puppies and kittens are fully trained, they may scratch, nip, jump, etc. This is not due to aggression, the pets simply do not know better because they have not been trained. Regardless, these behaviors are understandably frightening to young children.
3. Puppies, in particular, require a lot of work.
They are not house trained and have not gone through obedience training. Sometimes, puppy training coupled with the care required by babies and toddlers can prove overwhelming to parents. If dogs are not properly trained and socialized during their formative months, they can develop lifelong behavioral problems.
4. Children, just like puppies and kittens, go through different socialization and developmental stages.
For example, children 3-4 years of age are still learning impulse control. Sudden outbursts, or impulsive grabs at a pet might frighten them and cause an adverse, frightened response. Sadly, if puppies and kittens have negative experiences with children during their socialization period, they can develop a lifelong fear of small children. Between ages 5-7, children learn empathy and are better equipped to treat dogs and cats properly. Be aware that boys under the age of 9 are the most common victims of dog bites.
In accordance with our goal to place pets in lifelong forever homes, The Animal League has developed age guidelines to assist potential adopters in finding their best match:
- “6 Under 6”: Puppies and kittens under 6 months old are best-matched with families whose youngest child is 6 years of age or older, unless the puppy in question is a small breed.
- Small breed puppies (under 30 lbs. full-grown) and toy breed adults (under 15 lbs.) are best-matched with families whose youngest child is 8 years of age or older.