"Can I have a dog?" You might have fielded this question from your child — or your own inner child — and are not feeling ready for the commitment of adding a canine companion to the family. Consider adopting an alternative pet like a dog that has the trainable and affectionate nature of a pup but brings its own unique qualities to fit your lifestyle.
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Friendly and trainable
If you're looking for a pet who wiggles with happiness every time you walk in the room, then a goldfish might be an ideal pet for you. Their big, soul-searing eyes will sear your soul, begging you to drop them a treat or two, much like a pup would. These small fish take up little space, don't bark, and are great pets for apartments that don't allow pets while giving you intelligent companionship.
Their love for treats also makes them easy to train. You can teach them to let you pet them or follow your finger along the glass of their tank. Once they acquire this trick, you can suspend a hoop from a string and teach them to swim through it while following your finger or a training stick. From there, they can learn to swim an obstacle course of tubes, hoops, and poles much like a dog would in agility training.
Goldfish kept alone or in pairs in a fishbowl or nano tank will have fewer distractions than those who live in a more social environment. Male bettas and oscars are also prime candidates for learning to do tricks.
Intelligent and playful companion
Although you wouldn't want to keep one in your house, horses have a lot in common with dogs. Both species take cues from facial expressions, even going so far as to mimic those of the other species at play. Like dogs, horses are able to sense and respond to our moods based on body language and facial expressions.
Both dogs and horses play in similar manners. Although you might find it challenging to teach your horse to fetch a ball, both horses and dogs love to jump, run, roll, nip, and push one another. Horses, like dogs, will roll on their back, exposing their stomach and neck while playing.
Horses require a lot of care in the way of grooming, hoof care, and diet. However, this affectionate companion can live outside your home and won't keep neighbors awake with barking.
Take a catwalk
If you want an affectionate pet who is happy to walk on a leash, you might not immediately think of animals like cats. However, several breeds of cats defy the typical stereotype of the aloof feline with their more puppylike behavior. Abyssinians, for example, love following their owners wherever they go and do well walking on a harness and leash. Other easy-to-walk cats include the Bombay and Burmese breeds.
Ragdolls are happy to cuddle on your lap, and the sphinx will love snuggling with you under the blankets. Manx and Maine coons are two doglike cats who can be trained to come when you call them. American Curls are notably patient with children, and there's never a dull moment with the playful antics of a Birmin.
Small pets for kids
Guinea pigs are active during the day, unlike hamsters, mice, and other rodents. This intelligent little animal is friendly and relatively low maintenance, and they can even be trained to walk on a leash. Guinea pigs recognize their people and will sometimes jump up and down, "wheek" excitedly, or try to climb the side of their cage when it's time to play.
Also known as cavies, guinea pigs are also less fragile than hamsters, mice, and rabbits. They are larger than most rodents and can be easily trained with treats. You can even buy harnesses and leashes to train them to go for a walk.