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Country Discussion Topics
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Need suggestions for pets for kids
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Danny    Posted 02-04-2003 at 09:52:52       [Reply]  [No Email]
What animals make good outdoor pets for kids besides cats and dogs? I can't afford horses. What are some other options for outdoor pets? Something that can be fenced in an area of up to an acre and still be happy would be preferable so I don't have to deal with them getting in the garden or other places when we're not watching them. I can afford to build a small pole barn, but not anything big enough for a horse, donkey, etc. I've thought of goats, but don't know much about them. I've also had someone suggest rabbits, but don't know much about them either. The kids are 6 1/2 years old (twins, boy and girl). We live in southern Indiana and it does get cold here in the winter (lows around 10 degrees F at night right now).

Some of the things I'm interested in learning about regarding various pets are: initial cost, cost of spaying/neutering, cost of feeding, cost of shots, and any other hidden costs. Any help regarding where to get them is also appreciated. Also, what arrangements need to be done for their care while we're gone on vacation.

The pets will be for the kids enjoyment and for them to learn some responsibility, but at age 6 1/2 I will be doing most of the care, which I don't mind. However, I'd prefer something that's not going to be a constant hassle.


lorraine    Posted 06-21-2006 at 07:56:53       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I want a animal that i can play with and have with, can you help me find an anmimal. i don't want a big anmial and i don't want any retile.


kathy in illinois    Posted 02-05-2003 at 08:19:41       [Reply]  [No Email]
chickens, ducks and geese are terrific company. Ducks and geese however are messy and can do severe damage to landscaping and plantings if not confined. My Fiancee's son had a pigmy goat...it followed him around like a dog...but they also need to be confined or they will cause trouble. From my understanding a single pig does become attached to it's owner, but eventually, everyone wants to breed their pet, and then the sweet piggie who loved you so will turn on you if you make any sudden movements around her babies. rabbits can be good pets, but then, any animal who lives outside can easily be neglected to the point that they are not really a pet, and are not so nice to the owner. Our rabbits became sort of agressive because the kids were not spending enough time with them. It's hard to want to spend time with them outside when it's so cold in the winter. I like my chickens...I have only a few, but it's fun to collect the eggs, and if you work at it, you can become quite friendly. They are fairly easy to care for...except for the poop, they keep their water clean, (unlike ducks and geese) What evey you choose, make sure you have the proper set up for them, and can contain them...it makes them more enjoyable.

kathy in Illinois


Hal/WA    Posted 02-04-2003 at 15:50:41       [Reply]  [No Email]
When I was a kid, I was cautioned to not get too attached to my farm animals, because sooner or later they were ALL destined to be eaten. I hand raised dozens of calves using a nipple pail and very often these affectionate, very tame little animals stole my heart. It was very difficult to later watch them being shot and butchered on the farm. I also liked the hogs and chickens, but they all had the same fate, when the time and situation was right. We did keep some milk cows for many years, but eventually they were sold at the stockyards and probably became hamburger and hot dogs.

Most breeds of hog will get extremely large if allowed to mature as long as they will. I would be more than a little concerned about a huge pet hog around little kids.

I have never had goats of my own, but friends who have goats generally have lots of problems keeping them in. They also are relatively defensless if attacked by a pack of roaming dogs.

Dogs and cats can be very good pets, can live a fairly long time, will generally be as big as they are going to get in a couple of years, are not generally used as food, and can be very useful in a rural setting. A dog is the greatest doorbell/alarm system I know about, although sometimes they bark more than you want. They also will actively defend your family. Most dogs can be kept home by a simple fence, if they are neutered. And dogs will actually LOVE you back. Cats keep down the rodent problem and can be very affectionate, if not very loyal.

I would consider a good dog and a couple of cats as pets for my children. What is a good dog? Probably one that you carefully raise from a puppy that you train to act appropriately and of a breed that will not get too large and is not likely to harm your children or yourself. Most outdoor cats that are tame at all work out fine. Good luck.


Danny    Posted 02-05-2003 at 05:39:42       [Reply]  [No Email]
Hal/WA - Thanks for the suggestions. As for cats, I've already tried cats (two). I'm looking for an outside pet. Having outside cats did not work out because I was unable to train them not to poop right up next to the house (we couldn't even open the windows in the summer because of the stink) or in the gravel driveway (which is impossible to clean up without wasting some gravel each time). We still have the cats, but I'm planning to get rid of them and get something that's not going to poop right under the windows all the time. I thought about a dog (or two), but when I started asking questions about what dog ownership would entail, I was bashed heavily for even considering making a dog live outside. "They'll be lonely and bark all the time", "They need constant attention", "Not letting them in the house is in-humane", etc. I was thinking of getting one of those "invisible" electronic fences (that use a special dog collar) and section off an area of about 2 acres. But, if they're just going to be miserable and bark all the time, then I'd rather not get one.


Farmwench    Posted 02-09-2003 at 09:21:35       [Reply]  [No Email]
Provide the cats with an alternative litter area. Pick a spot that's close and easy access for the cats, but out of smelling range for you. Put some sand there, or dig a shallow hole and put some sand in, and viola!, cats have a new place to poop. I'm willing to bet you feed canned food to these cats. Any cat that eats canned food will produce feces that stinks to high heaven, and keeps on stinking. (I have cleaned up after thousands of cats, and speak from experience.)
Switch to dry food only. Cheaper, cleaner, and easier for you, and the poops will dry out and stop smelling very quickly. You can also drop a few moth balls in kitties' favorite pooping areas to keep them away.
My personal opinion is that teaching your children that pets you have accepted responsibility for are really just disposable/throw away toys, is not the way to produce responsible, compassionate, loyal, decent, dedicated adults. Please show your children that good people don't discard pets because they are an inconvenience.
Don't get a dog. If the cats are too much effort, you'll be getting rid of the dog in just a few months too, because they have a lot more aggravating habits that take more time and effort to cope with/train for. Good luck to you and the kids, and the cats.


Hal/WA    Posted 02-06-2003 at 19:37:19       [Reply]  [No Email]
I have never allowed ANY animals to live in my house for any length of time, as we have allergies and I don't want the mess. We got our present Boxer when my older son was starting high school. He picked out and paid for this beautiful, pedigreed dog without even discussing it with me. It made him mad when I told him the rules had not changed, and the dog could not live in our already too crowded house. But my son built a large, well insulated dog house for the Boxer and the dog has lived in it ever since. I wired the doghouse with protected light fixtures so it stays very comfortable, even when it gets quite cold. Of course, my son went off to college and now the Boxer has become my dog. Yes I love him. But when he dies, I will not replace him with another Boxer or other short haired dog.

I think having dogs and cats has been good for my children. They have learned responsability and empathy for the animals. And truly enjoyed the companionship of their animal friends. It has been worth it, if only for those reasons.

But living in the country, the dogs have been good sentries and the cats have kept down the mice. And I like them too. It probably looks funny to se me out walking with my Boxer and 3 adult cats following me around, but that is what they do.

You might have some success in getting the cats to quit pooping near your windows if you make the area less inviting to them. If you have shrubs or flower beds there with loose soil, they probably think that you want them to use that area, or else why would you keep the soil so loose and easy to dig?!!! Maybe you could figure out something else to do in that area. I have seldom seen cat poop on lawn grass or large gravel. As far as them using driveway gravel, I probably just wouldn't worry about it. If cats get used to pooping someplace else, they will probably forget about their old latrine spots. Maybe putting a cat box in a building the cats can frequent would solve the problems. In my opinion, having cats around a farm is a lot better than having mice. At least around here, if you don't have cats, you will have mice.

A good solution to dogs barking inappropriately is tougher. Some dogs are much more excitable than others. I grew up raising Labs and have tried a couple of them as an adult. I could never get my Labs to be quiet. With the last one, I invested in a "bark collar" that would shock the dog whenever it barked. I could always tell the exact day that the battery went dead in the bark collar, because that dog would start making a bunch of noise. I ended up getting rid of him... The Boxer has been pretty good that way, and I am well acquainted with Border Collies that don't bark except when they should. I like the medium size, intelligence and cooperative nature of the Border Collie, which will probably be my next dog.

All dogs need attention. You HAVE to work with them and pay attention to them for them to work out right, just like a child. But they can live outdoors, at least if you provide well for them.

I wish you luck. If your kids are anything like mine, they will love their animals and always be thankful that you allowed them that experience.



Maggie/TX    Posted 02-05-2003 at 09:30:32       [Reply]  [No Email]
Hmmm, cats who poop in the gravel driveway, huh? I believe I've met you on another board? :) Danny, those folks who say it is "inhumane" to not let a dog in the house are full of it as a Christmas turkey. Also, if you get the right breed of dog and spend some time training them NOT to bark all the time, they will only bark when there is really something to bark about.

I have had from one to three dogs at a time constantly for the last 23 years and they have all lived outside, as I am allergic and cannot have them living in the house. If you provide adequate shelter, food, training, love, etc. they will be not only fine but very happy outside. For a breed that will be great with kids and is smart enough to train easily, I highly recommend Golden Retrievers or Labs. With a Golden, you won't have to worry about it being a breed that will turn on your kids, and they crave play time and do best in a household where there are energetic kids to raise them. Get some tennis balls and a tennis racket and let the kids teach the dog to fetch the balls. The dogs will LOVE this and will do it until the KIDS get too tired to continue.

Dogs that bark all the time do so because they are bored. There is one next door to us that does this,(Doberman) as he's fenced in all day with nobody home and sees other dogs and people running around free and his owners both work and don't have kids at home to give him attention any time. There are collars made for dogs that emit a disagreeable sound when they bark that can be used when you are not home to train them that barking is not a fun game. This doesn't hurt them and is better than shock collars.

Please do NOT get a Pit Bull. Not with 6 year old kids around!

Be sure to have an adequate size dog house for shelter and if it really gets cold there, they make special material dog pads that keep the dog warm. Maybe a setup where you can put up a heat lamp in bitter cold weather. Ok, there's my 2 cents. :)


A nice pig    Posted 02-04-2003 at 13:09:35       [Reply]  [No Email]
Pigs are great pets too, they get really big, but you can maintain one for about eight to ten dollars a week. They are smart and a lot cleaner than people think. I would recommend a little barrow about ten to twelve weeks old. Just remember it's going to get really big.


Bob/Ont    Posted 02-04-2003 at 16:00:22       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Best get one like FRIDGE PIG in the gallery if you want one, they only get to 200/250# yorks will get twice that and would be very rough on the kitchen.
Later Bob


Pig    Posted 02-04-2003 at 13:15:59       [Reply]  [No Email]
Also if you invest in a one hole feeder they can go as long as a week without refilling them. Put in a nipple waterer and you don't need to worry about water while you're gone. I would have someone on hand to check tho just in case a water pipe breaks. Usually you can get the pig (ask for a barrow) already cut, for anywhere from twenty five dollars on up. You worm them once a month with a pellet wormer or ivomec which lasts a really long time as you use about one mm for every hundred pounds of body weight. You can even let them roam once they get used to being fed every day they'll come running the minute they here that feed bucket, You really can't ask for a better pet. Make sure that the breeder clips the needle teeth good and short. If things fall through and the kids lose interest or don't like him, you've got yourself a freezer full of pork. Good luck.


Tom A    Posted 02-04-2003 at 11:41:49       [Reply]  [Send Email]
I think a pair of well-raised goats are really great pets. They're not too big but big enough, are very friendly, entertaining and require some time but not a huge amount. I say a pair because goats are herd animals, and one will be lonely and very inclined to look for company (and get into mischief) unless somebody spends an awful lot of time with it. Either does or neutered males are fine, but don't get a buck (un-neutered male) 'cuz during the breeding season they can be hard to control. An acre can help support them, but you'd still need to buy some feed (grass hay, grains if you want, minerals, fresh water daily; not a huge expense). A good electric fence will keep them in without a problem *if* they've been taught to respect it. If you're ambitious, they can be taught to pull a cart or small garden implements, or carry packs of gear for hiking. Goats are smarter than dogs, although they do not have a dogs innate desire to please you, so training can sometimes be a little more frustrating than with a dog.

Another idea: Most of my wife's chickens are really pets. They come to her and follow her around, folks (especially kids) love to feed them and they don't require much time at all. If they're raised from chicks and handled (gently) from day one, they'll be decent little pets and each provide you with about 2 eggs every 3 days on average. Her oldest hens are about 4 or 5 now and they'll come and sit with her and cluck at her...pretty comical to watch. Have to really be aware of predators, though, as they aren't very big or aggressive and it is quite a bad day when you see the neighbor's dog tearing up one of your pets (yep, had it happen).

or get them all! We started with a few chickens, followed by a few goats, then more goats, then sheep, a mule, a donkey and the family is still growing. :-)

Tom A


CulpeperCowboy    Posted 02-04-2003 at 11:12:40       [Reply]  [No Email]
Well, I have asked several questions lets see if i can help someone. Why not chickens, just a few. You can build your own little chicken coop. The children can benifit from raising them, getting eggs, feeding. Teaching a little responsibilty and having fun doing so..The feed is cheap, and when you leave on vacation your ok if you leave enough food and water..Just an idea...Good luck...


screaminghollow    Posted 02-04-2003 at 10:24:36       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Leaving out dogs and cats, I'd say a dehorned Nanny goat raised from a baby. They make good pets, and if handled daily as they grow, make great pets. They actually like being petted and scratched. Rabbits are lousy pets, cute when they are little but they grow into critters which don't like being handled and scratch the dickens out of you. A ewe lamb raised from a baby can be friendly, but they are usually just there without much interaction with the owner.
for your age children, I'd say avoid a horse and ponies can be worse. My reccommendation would be looking for a four to six week old baby disbudded goat. Neutered if a billy. Feed it daily by hand and brush it etc. Goats need wormed like puppies etc. otherwise, they are relatively cheap to feed, they like to eat poison ivy and honeysuckle. .... and roses. There are some toxic plants to watch out for, wilted wild cherry leaves, wilted oak leaves. but goats are pretty hardy and don't need much more than a large dog house.


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