Pets can be a great way to teach your children about caring and responsibility. We always had some type of pet in our home when our children were growing up from hamsters to dogs and cats. The tradition continues, as my six-year-old grandson already has helped care for a hamster, guinea pig and dog.
At some time in a child's life they are going to want a pet and even though you may not have the time or financial means to take care of a dog, there are many more pets that are easily taken care of and don't incur the costs of owning a dog or cat.
If you do decide on bringing a dog into your home, you will want to do some research on the best type of dog for your family. I strongly urge anyone to adopt from your local shelter. Even if you are looking for a purebred you can find them at the shelters and rescue groups for individual breeds.
No matter what type of animal your child picks out, they will have to know a head of time the responsibility of owning a pet. Try to explain all the work that will be involved in taking care of their pet.
You will have to plan on helping a very young child take proper care of their pet, but make sure they are involved in some way in the care. You may have to clean the cage, but even a small child can help by putting in fresh litter, feeding and most importantly taking time each day to spend time with the animal.
Make sure to remind a child that the animal is depending on them for it's needs and without proper care they could become sick. Usually if you install this idea of the animal needing them, it will be easier to motivate them to do the chores required every day, rather than having to nag them to do it.