New Pet

How to find the right pet for you

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If you've been thinking of getting a new pet but you aren't sure what type of animal best suits your personality, you're not alone. Choosing a pet involves careful consideration of a whole host of important factors, including your budget, schedule, lifestyle, health, age and home environment.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Pet

Money is on everybody's mind all the time, and it's often the primary consideration people make when selecting a pet, and rightly so. If your heart is set on a dog or cat, you're going to have to budget for new pet supplies including food, toys, accessories and vet checkups. Pet birds will need a sturdy, well-built and spacious bird cage – a necessary investment which isn't always cheap. Some new pet products, like fish aquariums, can cost several hundred dollars up front in addition to regular care and preventive maintenance.

If you've been to visit a dog breeder or cat breeder and left with sticker shock when you learned the price of a pedigreed puppy or kitten, pet adoption may be the answer. Pet adoption agencies match neglected, abandoned or formerly abused pets with loving homes for a much lower cost than you'll pay at the pet store. In some places, pet adoption is even free of charge for approved individuals.

You'll also need to factor in your schedule and lifestyle. If you're not around the house much, getting a dog isn't the best idea, since they thrive on human companionship and can engage in destructive behavior when left unattended. Birds are surprisingly social and make good choices for people who spend a lot of time in the house. Cats and fish are generally less dependent on your company, so these make better choices if you're in and out of the house a lot.

Your age and overall health must also be taken into account when choosing a pet. Sedentary seniors may have trouble meeting the care needs of an energetic puppy. If you or anyone you live with suffers from pet allergies, you'll have to find a new friend that doesn't cause wheezing and sneezing. Try to match your own energy level to that of your pet, keeping in mind that not all dogs bound around endlessly and not all cats like to lounge in their owners' laps all day. Talking to a dog or cat breeder can help you select a suitable new pet.

Finally, think about your home environment. You want to be sure the animal will be happy living with you; in general, most (but not all) dog breeds need yards to exercise and play in, and cats tend to make better pets for apartment dwellers. Birds and fish can be in peril in multi-pet households, especially those with cats, unless you take appropriate security measures. Young children need an animal with a gentle and patient disposition to tolerate kids' curious prodding and poking.

The Practicalities of New Pet Ownership

If you've chosen to go the pet adoption route, you'll want a copy of the animal's pet records to ensure it's had all its scheduled shots and vaccinations. In the case of abandoned or abused animals, these are sometimes unavailable. You, as the new owner, will be responsible for meeting any such requirements.

Training and housebreaking a new puppy or kitten will require time, patience and commitment. If you have no prior experience training new pets, enrolling your furry friend in obedience school is the safest and easiest way to ensure you'll enjoy an obedient and well-behaved animal companion.

Pet names aren't always easy to choose, especially if you're going for something unique and original. One tried-and-true technique is to spend a few days observing your new friend's personality so you pick a pet name that reflects its individualism. Keeping pet names to one or two syllables is also a very good idea, ensuring that your pet will recognize its name when you say it.

Picking the right new pet is a complex decision that requires careful thought and evaluation. However, when you give it the attention it deserves, you'll be rewarded with the perfect furry, feathered or scaled friend, whose company you'll enjoy for years to come.