Dog? Cat? Shelter? Breeder? How do you decide?
Getting a new family pet can be a very exciting and rewarding time for a child. Before buying a puppy or kitten make sure to explore all of your options. For example: sometimes a puppy seems like a great idea until you get them home. They steal the kids toys, "bite" or mouth the children during times of teething and they repeatedly jump up on the kids. There is a good chance they will knock your kids over or steal their snack. For this reason alone, if you have younger children an older dog might be a great idea. Another plus of an older dog is it can put less stress on you as the parent. Trying to potty train a new puppy with a toddler running around can present quite challenging.
Another question to ask yourself is what breed will fit into your family life. Do you have a yard? Are you an active family that will give a dog a lot of exercise or are you homebodies that might do better with a cat or less active dog? There is a lot that plays into selecting the type and breed of animal that fits best with your family. My suggestion to you is do your research and do A LOT of it. There is nothing worse than bringing a pet home and having them not meet your expectations.
Next, you need to decide where you want to get your pet from. There are many reputable breeders that can produce a great quality pet. They allow you to perhaps know your pet from the time of birth and many times give you the opportunity to know both parents. For many pet owners these are very important aspects and therefore this can be a great choice for a potential pet owner. It can be a great bonding experience to take your family on weekly visits to see a pet that you have hand selected.
Likewise, adopting a shelter pet can be just as rewarding. It allows you and your children the opportunity to get to know the personality of many different pets. Therefore you can get exactly what you are looking for. You can talk with your kids about how you will be giving a home to an animal that desperately needs one. If you adopt from a place that is not a no kill shelter you can feel great about knowing your family saved a life!
Which ever option you choose please, please make sure that you read up and know what you are getting yourself into. Involve your children every step of the way and make sure that there is good harmony between your children and the new pet.