Congratulations on deciding to bring a new family member into your family….
Choosing to get a pet is a big decision, and it’s important to make a choice that suits your family, your home, lifestyle and environment. As well as being an exciting step, owning a pet is a big responsibility. You may be choosing a pet to introduce the idea of responsibility to your children, for companionship, or purely for the joy of having an animal to love and care for.
“The most important thing to think about when choosing a new pet is the level of care they’ll need, and the amount of time you have to take care of them.”
AM I READY FOR A PET?
To help you choose the right pet for you and your family, start by asking yourself:
- How much care and attention will my new pet need?
- What is the expected lifespan of this animal?
- How much will my new pet cost to look after?
- Will it take up much space in my home?
- How much exercise will it need?
- Does it need any special equipment?
- What’s involved in grooming, and how often does it need to be groomed?
- What sort of food will my new pet eat?
- Will it live inside my home or in the garden?
- Will you be able to live with pet hair all over your home, and occasional wear and tear?
- Do you have someone who can be a secondary caregiver if you are away from home? If not, how will you provide care for your pet when you travel?
Choosing a new pet is a long-term commitment. Always do your research before welcoming a new addition to your family, and never make an impulse decision. If you’ve decided on a dog, hopefully you’ve decided to adopt. Dogs have vastly different needs and personalities, so it’s important that you choose a dog that suits your lifestyle. The shelter will help match you up.
Try to find out everything you can about your dog’s temperament, expected lifespan, the amount of exercise they need, and any health issues they may be prone to. This will help ensure you’re making the right choice before you adopt.
BRINGING UP PUPPIES…
We all adore puppies and love to cuddle them, hold them, kiss them, and play with them. But as sweet as they look, they can make a lot of mess when they are young. And they grow up to be huge hungry hounds that need a lot of exercise, care and attention.
So before bringing a pup into your family it’s important to educate the family and kids and think rationally. Ask yourselves questions like: Can you really commit to caring for your pet for the next 14 or more years? Do you have ample space in your home? Are you ready for early morning and evening walks? Are you ready to clean up the poop? etc. Your answers will go a long way to knowing if you can build up a strong and healthy relationship with your pet.
WHAT A DOG NEEDS (AND WANTS)
Dogs Need You!
Sharing your life with an animal has great benefits and can bring great joy, and satisfaction. Dogs are very social creatures; they aren’t happy left outside or chained up in the yard alone all the time. If you are thinking about getting a dog, make sure you’re going to be able to spend several hours a day with him or her.
Dogs need quite a bit of interaction with their humans in order to be happy. If you’re very busy and spend little time at home, a dog might not be a suitable pet for you, unless you can bring your dog along when you’re away from home.
Adopting a puppy is a huge commitment, since you cannot leave a puppy home alone all day. Most puppies need to eliminate every two hours or so. Also, in order to co-exist happily with humans, puppies must be taught house-training skills and basic cues such as “sit,” “stay” and “come.” If puppies are not handled often and socialized when young, they will become shy and fearful.
All dogs should have at least one walk a day outside their home turf, but some dogs need much more. Keep in mind that not all small dogs are less active and not all large dogs need a great deal of exercise. You’ll want to learn more about the traits of the dog you’re thinking about getting, even if he or she is a mixed breed, to see if you are compatible.
Make sure you have enough money to have a dog. Costs associated with dog care include food, toys, leashes, a crate, training, grooming, spay/neuter surgery, routine vet care and, sometimes, emergency vet care.
Whatever dog you choose, keep in mind that you are making a long-term commitment, since dogs live 10 years or more. Your dog will need attention, love and respect from you: food and water are not enough. Dogs need to be part of the family. Lastly, and most importantly, remember a pet needs your care throughout their life span and is not a fancy toy to throw away. Not only do they come into our life and become a part of our family, but they also bring infinite joy, love, happiness and lessons to our lives.
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About the author
Bhavani Sundaram is an animal lover and activist from Himachal Pradesh in India.