There are a number of important things to consider when looking for a new pet. This week, the Seattle Humane Society offers some tips on questions you should think about when getting a new animal.
How much time do you spend at home on an average day?
Time is a precious thing in our lives. Consider how much free time you have now to spend time taking care of a pet (feeding, grooming, exercising, training and socializing). While you're away be sure that someone is home to give your animals care and love. Puppies and kittens need more physical and emotional involvement with their people than you can give if you are away from home more than six hours a day. Most adult pets can more easily adjust to your schedule.
Are there children in the home?
Careful supervision and training is required so both the child and the pet remain safe and happy. While the family pet offers children an opportunity to learn about responsibility and caring, an adult must supervise regular pet care duties. Teach by example that your pet is an important family member, not a thing to be neglected and tossed away when no longer new.
With small children, it's even more important that you supervise all interactions with your child and your pet. When choosing a pet, take into consideration the size and temperament of the animal. Is the dog or cat energetic? Timid? These are important factors. Even if the pet is incredibly friendly and tolerant, a hyperactive dog jumping on a toddler or a nervous swat from a cat will likely cause friction and concern in the family dynamic.
Will this pet be a companion to another pet?
If you're adding a new pet to your family and you already have existing pets, it is important to plan ahead. Introduce the pets in a neutral location so that your resident pet is less likely to view the newcomer as a territorial intruder. From the first meeting, you want both dogs to expect "good things" to happen when they're in each other's presence - offer plenty of treats!
Do I want a pet that will participate with me in outdoor activities?
If you want a pet to take hiking and camping, to play ball or swim in the lake, or train for a sporting event, you must consider the breed/type of pet and their physical attributes and the conditions they will be facing. Pets will take conditioning and training to be able to keep up without injury. In all cases, pets traveling with the owners need to have good manners and obedience training.
How large is "too large" for my lifestyle?
As a renter, have I checked the pet policies in my lease? How big is my backyard? Puppies grow up and thousands turn up in shelters every year because someone didn't think about how big that dog would get, or how active the dog would be. You may have a medium-size dog that is a nice size for your yard - however, it is a high-energy terrier with nothing to do because you work all day and are too tired at night to play with the dog? Make sure you help your dog succeed as a member of the family by choosing a breed and temperament that is a good fit for your lifestyle.
Also don't miss this week's pet of the week: Roxy. Available now at the Seattle Humane Society.