Choosing the right family pet
Key considerations for making the perfect pick
Article by Jessica Brody from Our Best Friends
Pet ownership is a major commitment and there is a lot to consider before taking the leap for the first time. It is important to pick the right kind of pet for your family so that everybody enjoys the experience, as a bad fit becomes a problem for both the animal and the people involved. How do you know what kind of pet will work best for your family?
Will your lifestyle accommodate a pet?
Before you pick a specific type of pet, think about your lifestyle. For example, do you have a big, fenced-in yard or are you in a high-rise rental apartment? Do you have a predictable schedule where you are home regularly or are you out of town and on the go constantly? Do you want an active pet or one that is more mellow and snuggly? Are there any family allergies to consider?
All animals need time with their owners, but some types of pets need more than others. For example, Best Friends explains that puppies take a serious time investment in those early months so they are housebroken and socialized properly. Cats may be somewhat lower-maintenance, but they do still need attention. Rabbits, birds, and ferrets are other popular pet choices, but they also involve a fair amount of work.
Choose a pet that suits your family's needs
Your family may want to ease into pet ownership with something fairly low cost and low maintenance. Mint suggests that hermit crabs, hamsters, guinea pigs, and betta fish all make good starter pets for families. As you consider different kinds of pets, do some research into their typical lifespan and upkeep so you know what kind of commitment is needed.
Working around family allergies can complicate a pet search. Many dogs and cats shed a lot, causing issues for allergy sufferers and added work in keeping the house clean. However, there are dog and cat breeds work well for families with animal allergies. Portuguese Water Dogs, Bichon Frise, and poodles are dogs worth considering as are Sphynx, Balinese, and Cornish Rex or Devon Rex cats.
If you have young children, you may want to avoid puppies and kittens and go for older pets who have a history of getting along well with little ones, explains Better Homes & Gardens. No one breed is guaranteed to be entirely kid-friendly, but golden retrievers, beagles, labrador retrievers, and bulldogs are often a good fit with the proper training.
Get prepared and plan for fun
Once your family has chosen a pet, there are some preparations that need to be done before they join the family. Training and exercise are essential for dogs in particular and every type of pet will need regular care. Discuss who will be responsible for each pet care task and stock up on supplies like pet food, litter boxes, or crates for dog training.
In most cases, it will not take long for your family's new pet to be ready to play. Cats love to banter with toys and many enjoy chasing a laser pointer light. Dogs will thrive on getting outside regularly for walks and many will be thrilled to play fetch or tug-of-war. If you have a busy schedule and don’t think you’ll able to give your dog adequate exercise or if you just want to be sure they’re getting enough exercise while you’re at work, you might want to look into hiring a dog walker who can come by regularly to take them for a stroll.
Choosing the right pet can be time consuming, but it is important to find a good fit for your family since some types of pets are more labor-intensive to own than others. Take the time to evaluate your options, as careful consideration during the pet selection process can lead to years of companionship once you've welcomed your new family member into your home.