Deciding to adopt a pet can be an exciting time in your life. It can also lead to hours of frustration and disappointment if you do not make an educated decision about your future adoptee. Doing your homework when adopting a pet will help ensure you and your newest companion get the most out of the relationship.
You may have always had your heart set on a certain species or breed, but before making the big decision to bring an animal home consider what attracted you to the breed in the first place. Was it solely based on appearance? Or maybe you’ve always wanted a lap animal that will spend time with you at leisure while you watch the news. Researching the characteristics of your chosen breed first will help determine whether you are likely to receive the affection you are looking for, or a handful.
For example, maybe you’ve always wanted a jack russell because of the appearance of Eddie on Frasier, a funny jack russell who spends his days lounging with Martin. Jack russells, however, are anything but lounge dogs. They are often high energy dogs that require lots of exercise to keep them happy. If you lead a mostly sedentary life, a jack russell may not be the best breed for you after all – consider a greyhound instead!
Another important issue to consider when choosing a pet is whether or not you have kids. Introducing pets to your children is a great way for them to learn about responsibility while simultaneously developing compassion for the animal world. If you do have kids, make sure you research breeds and species that are known to be kid friendly. Many small dogs can become aggressive towards kids who may inadvertently frighten them with loud noise or rough play.
On the other side of the spectrum, some large dogs, especially those bred to be loyal guard dogs may become overly protective when children are playing and consider the roughhousing to be dangerous to “their” child. You may not want to bring home an extremely fragile animal either, such as a salamander, which spends most of its time in hiding and can easily be injured by grabbing fingers. Size should not be a limiting factor however. Rats, for example, make great pets for small children due to their generally docile nature and affectionate bonds they form with their owners.
When you have finished your homework and have finally narrowed down the right animal for your home you should also consider the individual animal’s personality. Go meet your potential new pet before bringing him or her home blindly. Consider fostering an animal overnight if your local shelter allows it. At the very least, spend time with the pet while on a walk or in a visiting room before making the decision to adopt.
When you know you’ve found “the one,” understand you may be in for weeks of training before your newest family member (and those already present if you have kids) understands the rules and behaviors set for him in his new home. Taking these simple steps can help ensure you and your animal companions build relationships that will last a life time