Picking the Perfect Pet

Dogs: For Active Kids

Fido requires more care from you and your child than any pet; every breed needs daily exercise and playtime. If your family enjoys walks in the park and running around in the backyard, then a dog might be a good fit, says Colleen Pelar, author of Living With Kids and Dogs ... Without Losing Your Mind. In fact, a recent British study found that kids who have a dog spend an extra hour a week doing physical activity.

But don't expect that your 5- or 6-year-old will be able to walk the dog on his own. "Even puppies or small dogs can be strong enough to drag a child if they get excited by a cat or spooked by a loud noise," says Pelar. "Instead, your child can help you hold the leash while you walk together."

Originally published in the April 2011 issue of Parents magazine.

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