Who doesn’t feel a pull on their heartstrings when they watch a video of a small child writhing in delight at a new puppy? Who doesn’t think, “That could be me,” when they see a cat doing something cute? Even the coldest of hearts can melt when animals show us humans just how much devotion they can have. Since such an addition can impact our lives for as long as 10-15 years, it is important to ask, “what pet should I get?” before heading to the local animal shelter or rescue. The answer might surprise you.
There are many choices and decisions to make when the time is right to get a new pet. Here are some of the most common animals to consider when asking what pet should I get:
The right animal might not be your first choice. For greater confidence in your decision, it is helpful to ask some important questions before heading out to the local animal shelter or rescue agency. A little reflection upon what pet should I get could prevent a lot of heartache.
Motivation is a key to success for any venture, particularly for what will be a long lasting relationship with a furry bundle of joy. It is the beginning of a journey that will require commitment. Remembering the reasons why you brought an animal into your life will help tremendously when challenges arise. Is there a child in the house that will enjoy having an animal around for social integration or to learn responsibility? Are you looking for a pet that will provide a little structure, stability and companionship for yourself? Before asking, “what pet should I get,” establish the motive and keep that inspiration as you move forward with this rewarding journey.
Once you have your motive and intention, there are other things to ponder. Is this a new pet for the household or an additional animal? Whether you’re bringing a new animal into the home or a providing a “friend” for your already-happy family is important to know. Each scenario has different responsibilities. It is good to clarify the home situation first before dealing specifically with “what pet should I get?”
How will other animals in the house react to a new pet? Do you know how your current dog will accept a new puppy, cat or rabbit? Do you know how your cat will react to the perceived intrusion by a dog? These questions are helpful for the lifestyle change you are about to introduce to all members of the household. There are many advantages to introducing a new pet into a household that already has furry members. Be sure to consider all the angles. If your current dog whines for your attention a lot or continues to have separation anxiety issues, it would be helpful to understand the impact on those behaviors when considering “what pet should I get?”
Is the new pet going to adapt well to your children? Will your elderly mother-in-law who lives with you have a difficult time if you introduce a new animal? Does your child have allergies? If that is so, it is not necessarily the end of the conversation. Asking what pet should I get enabled the Obamas to provide a hypoallergenic Portuguese Water Dog named Bo a good home in the White House to the delight of their daughters, the eldest being allergy-prone.
Children surely benefit from the companionship and friendship of animals. Pets provide opportunities for them to learn about responsibility. An animal’s integration into a new home is something for everyone to take part in. If you hope your children will contribute to the pet’s care, it is important to have that conversation with them. Consider your child’s age and his or her interest and ability to take part in training, socializing and play.
More to Consider When You Ask Yourself, "What Pet Should I Get?"
Let us asses other factors like the home environment, lifestyle and resources when considering what pet should I get.
Not all small dogs are comfortable with apartment living while medium-sized dogs might be. Some dogs are ill-suited for big city living, but an older, more mature dog with a quiet demeanor might be. For city dwellers, a cat or kitten might be perfect. Most animal shelter staff can help determine the suitability of an animal for the home environment you have.
For apartment dwellers, find out what your lease or rental agreement says about pets. If there are restrictions, ask if you have any other options. Restrictions might apply only to dogs and cats. If you are thinking of a more exotic animal, like a pot bellied pig, find out if there are zoning laws in your city. Those laws will help determine the right pet for you.
I Have a Yard
Dog, cat or rabbit, just because you have a yard doesn’t mean you are ready. Is the yard fenced in and at a height that the animal cannot jump over? If you intend your cat to have outdoor time, a play area or cat enclosure should be considered. Assess what preparations your yard might require when asking, “what kind of pet should I get?”
Active or passive lifestyle
Getting to the core, “What impact on my active lifestyle will my new pet have?” If you don’t like going for long walks or the outdoors that’s good to know. Current lifestyle is important to keep in mind when asking what pet should I get?
If you spend 6 hours a week at the gym, Friday night at cocktails, Monday night at yoga, have weekly social engagements and love to sleep in on weekends, you will want to consider how having a new pet will require changes. If you are a busy person, a fish or a reptile might solve “what pet I should get.”
Puppy or dog?
It’s undeniable that kittens and puppies are cute. If you have the time, ability and patience, a puppy can be a rewarding endeavor. Training a puppy might look like fun, but if you live alone and work a lot, consider a different option. If your 40-hour workweek is strict, an older animal might be a better choice. It’s not just potty training that your puppy needs. He or she will also need socialization with people and other animals and lots of time to play with you. Did we mention patience?
A kitten might require less training than a puppy, but remember that cats like routine with their litter box habits and regular cleaning will be necessary. Budget time for litter box maintenance and additional time for affection, nail trimming and play. Playing with your cat at an early age will ensure a harmonious home environment for everyone. Please do not declaw your kitten. It is cruel to make the animal unable to protect itself.
Shelter or breeder?
It is best to adopt from pet shelters or rescues rather than breeders unless your aim is to train dogs for shows or to breed. Keep in mind there are countless animals waiting to be adopted into a loving home worthy of your time, attention and affection.
Dogs and cats scratch. It's part of their nature. Assessing potential hazards is part of good preparation. Don't overlook adequate storage for food and supplies.
Animals cost money. Besides adoption fees and spaying or neutering fees, there will be food expenses, medical needs (routine and emergency), pet health insurance, board and care when you go on vacation, training classes and accessories like collars, leashes and lots of toys. Lots of toys.
Having plenty of disposable income doesn’t mean the question "what pet should I get" leaves you with a wide-open choice. Are life changes on the horizon? If you recently proposed to your girlfriend or boyfriend, a change might affect getting a pet. Is a move across the country imminent? Now might not be the best time to bring a new animal into the household. Moving can be very stressful on animals. What pet should I get also depends on upcoming life changes.
The most important consideration when you ask, “what pet should I get?” is not your disposable income, but your disposable time. Time is a prime commodity in today’s society. However, time is one thing new pet owners need to have for a successful start to bringing a new pet into the home.
It takes time to adapt. It’s best not to think Rocky will one hundred percent cooperate the first few times you want to go on your early morning run. The environment is new and people and places will be both strange and exciting to Rocky. It will take adjusting to find out if Rocky is ready to be an eager running partner, at least in the beginning.
One thing you can do to make sure your devoted pet will have a happy, fulfilled life is to come up with a Plan B when there is an emergency. Having a plan in place includes knowing your backup person knows where the leash, extra food and favorite toys are. Spend a little time writing out a To Do list. Plan B in an emergency can generate a lot of peace of mind for you and your pet now.
It’s Raining Cats and Dogs!
Say you have narrowed your choices about what pet I should get to either a dog or a cat. Congratulations! You have made progress in planning for your future with a loving, devoted animal. They are a few more things to think about:
Temperament and Personality
How much one-on-one time do you have for your new pet? Most of these animals mentioned here are social creatures. Despite what people may think, cats need affection time with their humans, too. We all have memories of unhappy cats. How did they get that way? Feline friends may not require the same commitment of time dogs do, but they still thrive on attention and play, especially when they are young.
Canine personality patterns differ by the breed. What pet should I get will also depend on the breed that is best suited not only to your living situation, but to your own temperament and personality.
Maybe within one of Fido's breeds is a dominant behavior you should know about beforehand–it might be a behavior or trait that will constantly irk you. Some breeds are protective and defensive of their humans. Read books, websites and blogs. If there is a trait that might bother you, it might be best to look for a dog breed with a different personality. It’s not just the dog's personality best suited to you, the owner. Consider the people your new pet will probably encounter regularly. That’s part of the environment and routine for your pet you should know ahead of time.
What’s In a Name?
You asked yourself the right questions about what pet should I get, did your research and made the best decision for your future of fur and fun. If you have children, it’s time to play the “name game.” Healthy debate, creativity and individuality should be encouraged. If this is an adult only household, poll your coworkers, friends and family for suggestions. It’s okay to make a big deal about it. You’ve put some hard work into this decision.
None of these may result in the name you ultimately choose, but you are integrating your community–the people closest to you–into the celebration of the new furry (or scaly) addition to your family. This would also be a great time to revisit your initial motivation and inspiration. You are embarking on a friendship that will surely bring companionship, devotion, fun and good times.
While dogs and cats are popular for many people, other species might factor into your decision about what pet should I get.
Birds of a Feather
There is more to life than cats and dogs. Parrots can live as long as 50 years. Other species make good companions. The key issues with birds are the ability of the animal to move comfortably in the cage and the amount of care they require.
Turtles, lizards and snakes might be appealing if you don’t have a lot of time to socialize, train and play with a new pet. How large and quickly the animal will grow is important to know. Reptiles are cold-blooded. Well-maintained temperature and well-regulated humidity are critical. Reptiles make great pets, but consider the “critters” you will have to handle when it’s feeding time. People with high squeamish levels should think carefully about reptiles when considering what pet should I get.
Fish can be simple and straightforward. Fish can also be a full-time hobby. There are many studies about the benefits aquarium fish have on stress and blood pressure. Feeding your fish can be a rewarding family activity. Whether you decide on a full aquarium or a moderately sized fish bowl will depend on your ambition and space. Many apartments and condo units have liability clauses for aquariums. Don't forget to look into that.
Choose between salt water and fresh-water fish, not both. Research things like temperature regulation, food, clean water and pesticides, and cleaning solutions or solvents that might contaminate the water before heading out to find Nemo. Certain fish do not co-habitate with others well. Your local pet store that has a good variety of fish species is a good place to inquire about what pet I should get.
Rabbits rate high on the cuteness factor. They are playful, fun and affectionate. Rabbits might not be the best choice if the home has small children because they are delicate, but rabbits are very clean and easy to care for; apartment or small home dwellings work well for them. The outdoors might not, though, if the temperature varies. While rabbits enjoy hopping around freely, it’s best not to leave them unattended, particularly if there is the possibility of other predators around. If hanging out in the yard with your rabbit is not for you, there are other possibilities on the list "what pet should I get."
You’re walking down the street. You see a woman walking her pig. Who could resist the great conversation that makes? Pigs might be an option if a porcine breed suits your style. If zoning issues do not prevent you from choosing a pig as your new companion, check out different websites for adoption choices rather than going to a breeder.
Hold Your Horses
Just because you promised your 8-year-old a pony and your financial resources do not prohibit it, consider all that having a horse as a pet requires. It is a full-time job and carries with it many responsibilities, not to mention the high cost of feed, medical care, stabling, training and hoof care. But if you live in a rural area and have experience riding horses, owning one as a pet can be a rewarding adventure.
Having a household pet might be the most important decision you make in a long time. Asking the right questions from the beginning to the end, what pet should I get, will help to ensure an adventure of loyalty, devotion and companionship for everyone.