Many people are looking to bring a loving pet into their lives while we’re all staying at home, which has led to an increase in the percentage of pets being adopted and fostered from shelters. At some point, every kid wants to adopt a pet (because they’re paw-some), and every parent has to decide if their family is ready to get a pet. Weighing the benefits of having a cute puppy, adorable kitten, friendly fish, or other pet in the house against having to feed it, clean up after it, and generally take care of it can be tricky. Having a pet around the house can also have tremendous social and emotional benefits for kids, so today we’re going to dive into some of those benefits and a few ways to tell if your kid is ready for their first pet.

We’ve partnered with Best Friends Animal Society on our all-new Rescue Tales™ line of plush pets.  Adopting a Rescue Tales™ pet is a great way for your kids to experience what it’s like to adopt a real rescue animal, because all animals deserve a safe and loving place to call home. To learn more about the awesome work that Best Friends Animal Society is doing to give dogs and cats a safe place to call home, check out their website.

Here are seven life skills your kids can learn by adopting a pet:



Whether they’re feeding their pet fish at regular times every day, walking the dog, or cleaning up after their kitten, pets are a great way to teach your kids about responsibility. When you first get your new pet, it’s important to ease your kids into the new responsibilities of pet ownership by doing things together. Be careful not to fall into a rhythm where only you are taking care of your family’s new pet. If you want to see how your kids handle the responsibilities of pet ownership, like bathing a new puppy, we recommend toys like the Rescue Tales™ Scrub ‘n Groom Bathtub as a way to teach your kids about the responsibilities of pet ownership while they play.



Another social-emotional benefit of owning a pet is that it teaches kids to empathize with others. Whether it’s a kitten that’s feeling scared being away from its mother or a puppy that’s afraid of thunderstorms, kids can learn about empathy by soothing their new pet. If you’re looking for a way to help your kids learn about empathy, our Rescue Tales™ Adoptable Pets are soft and cuddly, make realistic whimpering sounds and have wipe-away tears.



Once your family’s new pet is comfy in your home, it’s time to start teaching it tricks, housebreaking it, or developing any other skills you want your new pet to have. Teaching pets tricks requires your kids to be patient and persevere (two very important life skills), but if your kids stick to a routine, they’ll love it when your new pet is able to do tricks on command.



Pets can help kids learn a very important lesson about respect. Whether your new pet is a puppy, kitten, lizard, bird, or anything else, it has to be handled delicately and treated with respect. Petting and playing with their new pet will show your kids how to be delicate and respectful of others and their feelings.


The Importance of Physical Activity

Many new pets (puppies especially) have a ton of energy. Like, holy cow, so much more energy than something that small should have. That means your family will need to take your new pet for lots of walks, play with it, or give it any form of exercise that it needs. Encouraging your kids to get regular exercise with their new pet helps them see the value of physical activity (and hopefully lets everybody sleep a little better at night).



One of the best things pets offer is unconditional love. The way puppies lick kids’ faces or kittens curl up in their laps shows just how much pets reciprocate the love they receive from your kids. That sort of unconditional love does wonders for helping kids develop healthy self-esteem and a feeling of support. Our Rescue Tales™ Cuddly Pups make for great snuggle buddies.



It isn’t always apparent, but kids can learn a lot about leadership by owning a pet. As your kids train their pet to do tricks and follow commands, they’re practicing their leadership skills. Encouraging kids to take on the responsibility of training a new pet is a great way for them to develop leadership skills they’ll use throughout their lives.

We hope you enjoyed today’s blog post about the valuable life skills that adopting a pet can teach your kids. Got some cute photos of your kids and their new pet (or Rescue Tales™ plush pet)? We’d love to see them! Don’t forget to tag us when you post (@OfficialLittleTikes on Instagram, @LittleTikes everywhere else on social media)! 

At Little Tikes, we don’t just make toys, we make play. Looking for more great active play ideas? Check out for all our latest play tips & tricks!