Sharing your home with a four legged friend can be one of life’s greatest joys. Dogs and other pets give us unconditional loyalty and acceptance, provide constant companionship and even relieve stress after a hard day’s work. Pet ownership can be rewarding, but only if you think through your decision before you adopt a companion. Choosing the right pet generally means identifying the type of animal that matches your lifestyle and wants.
Consider physical aspects:
Longhaired pets must be brushed daily or require frequent trips to the groomers. All pets belong indoors with their families. Dogs do much better mentally if allowed indoors, including sleeping indoors at night. Resolve to live with your pet, not keep him as an “outsider!”
Adult vs. youngsters:
Sure puppies are adorable but they can cause some real frustrations while growing up. Puppies must be thoroughly socialized to as many different people, places, things and noises as possible within the first five months of life. If canines are not socialized early enough in their lives they become fearful and most serious behavior problems stem from fear. Puppies must be housetrained and supervised 100% of the time until they the adult version for some reason then don’t get a puppy just because it is so cute.
Adults on the other hand generally housetrain quickly as they have the physical capacity to hold off elimination for longer periods. Adults two years and older generally have outgrown chewing and other destructive behavior. However, they also may come with existing behavior problems such as separation anxiety, or escape behaviors. Temperament is harder to mold with adults. If an adult animal you are looking at is shy, chances are he will remain shy unless you enlist the help of a professional who can work with you on positive behavior modification.are trustworthy adults. Puppies are troublesome; chewing, scratching, and vocalizing. This is part of their developmental process. Be ready to commit extra time, patience and love to these youngsters. If your commitment to supervision socialization and gentle, humane guidance and training are high, the payoff can be great. But just remember that your pet will be an adult for a far longer time than a cute, adorable youngster.
Amount of $$
Especially with some breeds of dogs and cats, a groomer may be required at frequent intervals to avoid mats and tangles. Training your new dog should be very high on your priority list. Studies have shown that dogs that receive some type of formal training have relatively fewer behavior problems than their counterparts. Training also helps you and your new friend bond quickly. One should set aside at least one hundred dollars for one 6-8 week course. Puppies housetrain faster and easier using the crate methods. Adult dogs can benefit from crate training as well and it may be a tool that your local rescue group or humane society requires.
Breed versus your Lifestyle:
Is your household active and busy? Do you want a jogging companion or a couch potato? Do you want a relatively few demands and just something to pet but not walk? Do you like a take charge kind of pet or a precious daisy type? Research breeds carefully before adopting any purebred or mixed breed. Each breed has different behavior tendencies; some of those tendencies may not match well with your lifestyle. In dogs, terriers love to bark and dig; Huskies and Malamutes have endless energy but don’t do well in warm climates. Take a trip to the library and research some possible breeds. Pick out two to three different breeds or mixed breeds that will fit your family lifestyle and needs.
Some breeds of both dogs and cats are known to be better with children than others. If you have children in your immediate family or children/grandchildren that visit, be doubly cautious about picking the right animal for you. Most aggression in a family pet is directed at children. Adopt a breed of pet that is known to be tolerant and more importantly, look carefully at the individual animal’s behavior. In turn, teach your children to handle your family pet gently and with respect. Any child 12 years or under needs to have 100% supervision when with the family pet. Bring your children, spouse, or anyone who is in the same household that will be interacting with the pet.
Be a responsible pet owner. Having your pet spayed or neutered, obeying community leash and licensing laws, and keeping Identification tags on your pet al all times are all part of being a responsible owner.
Remember, a pet is for a lifetime, not just for a holiday or birthday so choose wisely.
Recommended Reading List:
Learn How to Choose The Right Dog - Sandy Kempe, 1994
The Right Dog For You - Daniel F. Tortora, Ph.D. 1980
Choosing & Caring for a Shelter Dog - Bob Chrisiansen, 1995