Before you say “yes” to pleas for a puppy from your kids, you have to consider your family’s lifestyle. Here’s the scoop from Family Circle magazine:

  • First, if your family doesn’t have a lot of time to spend on pet care – get a fish. Why? Fish are low maintenance: They usually need only 5 minutes a day for feeding, and no more than 30 minutes a week for cleaning the tank.
  • Then, if you’ve got active kids who like to run around – your best bet is a medium-to-large-size dog with a calm disposition. Big dogs can more easily keep up with active kids. And Golden Retrievers make great companions because they’re energetic and good with children.
  • The next which-pet-do-we-get issue: If you’re gone a lot on weekends, the best pet is a guinea pig. Why? Because they can survive on their own for a few days, if you leave enough fresh water and food. And guinea pigs can entertain themselves, as long as they have a running wheel.
  • If your family includes a shy child, you might try a parakeet or cockatiel. Birds interact well with people because they like to please their owners. And learning to take a bird out of its cage and handle it calmly can help a child develop confidence.
  • And the final pick-a-pet issue: If your family includes school-age kids who like to help with chores, consider a cat. With supervision, a child can help feed, brush and care for a cat. And as they get older, you can increase their responsibilities.

If you’d like to go further, check out the book: Are You the Pet for Me by Mary Jane Checchi.