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Answers From a Pet Expert - Selecting The Best Pet For You

Apr 22, 2008
* Question: What should I consider to decide on the pet that is right for me and my family?

In the first place, never buy a pet on a whim. Bringing a cute kitten or puppy home just because it was too cute to pass up can be a mistake.

Discuss the matter of pets together as a family before making the purchase. Remember to consider the following important issues: personal attention, grooming, playtime, daily feeding, vet care and house and potty training (if pet will be indoors). Consider asking each person in the household why they want a pet. Be sure your children understand that a pet is an important member of the family, not a toy, and that the pet's needs must be considered just as much as the humans' needs.

Next, review your lifestyle. Let's say, for example, you have a downtown apartment and have a rigorous work schedule. In this case it may be best to consider a pet such as a bird, a cat or maybe even a fish. If your daily routine includes jogging or running, then a dog might be a good choice for you.

To better understand the needs of a potential pet, you can talk to breeders and other pet owners. Attend local pet shows and talk to the judges. Surf the internet for specific breeds to learn more about the pet you want to add to your family. Also, consider the ages of your children when planning to put a pet in the home. Also, consider the life expectancy of the pet, itself.

* Question: Should I get a pet from a shelter or a pet store?

Some people swear by animal shelters, while others prefer pet stores. Weighing the two, I feel it is recommended to look for a pet (especially dogs and cats) at a shelter. You'll find that animals at a shelter are well-cared for by the staff and having had much interaction with the staff, the animals are well-adapted to people. The shelter's staff can tell you quite a bit about the animals to help you find the pet that will be well-suited to you and your family. The staff can tell you which cat likes to curl up on your lap, which dog enjoys long walks and which animal will be good with children. In addition, animals from a shelter have already been checked and have received all of their needed immunizations and have already been neutered or spayed.

If you plan on getting a pet from a pet store, be sure to get a briefing from the store owner regarding that animal's behavior, especially with dogs, cats and other animals having a good amount of interactions with people.

* Question: How should I ascertain the kind of dog that is best for me?

You should follow basic steps in choosing the right type of dog for you:

- Spend time reading pet guides to learn about a specific dog breed's temperament and background. Use Google to search the internet for more information about the more people-friendly types of dogs.

- Talk with a veterinarian to discuss details about the characteristics and disposition of the breed you are looking for. Ask questions to understand more about that breed.

- After weighing all your options you plan to find a puppy at your local pet store, remember to ask for the dog's background -- things like from where the dog originated, anomalies of that particular dog's breed as well as behavioral and physical problems. If you prefer not to use the local pet store, you can also look for a puppy or dog at a local animal shelter or from a private party.

- Of course, one of the very best methods (though not very scientific) is to find out from your friends' and associates about their own experiences with various types of dogs they have owned in the past.
About the Author
As editor of Pet-HQ.com, Paige Harbold gives advice on everything from Adopting a Pet to Pet Strollers.
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