The Best Tips for Choosing the Perfect Pet to Share Your Life

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Taking the plunge into pet ownership can be overwhelming. The selection of animals is vast, and adding a member to your household is a big deal.

How do you decide between cute and cuddly, scaly and serene, and funny, friendly and feathered?

List your desires. One of the first things you can do is make a list of qualities you desire in a companion animal.  As the American Veterinary Medical Association notes, a little soul searching can help point you toward selecting the right pet.  Do you want an animal that snuggles in your lap, or do you prefer a jogging partner?  Will you mind coming home to litter boxes that need cleaning?  Will it bother you to deal with shedding hair, and does anyone in your household have allergies?  By thinking through all the ins and outs of pet ownership, you can narrow down your choices to animals that fit well with you, your home and your lifestyle.

Accommodations and needs. Different pets have different needs.  Once you know what sort of pet might work for you, think about whether you and your home will fit the pet.  Is your yard fenced, and is there enough room in your home to accommodate your pet on rainy days?  If you opt for a pet like a dog, it may be necessary to hire a dog walker if you work long hours or have an especially busy schedule.  Is there a local vet who can tend your animal, or will you need to travel to reach a clinic?  Sometimes even common pets, such as rabbits or birds, require specialized veterinary care.  What sort of budget do you have to meet your pet’s medical and maintenance needs?  And what will your pet eat?  It’s not always simple to know.  For instance, as The Telegraph points out, some reptiles eat vegetables and insects, some just insects, and some eat insects and a paste.  Before committing to a pet, you can check in with your veterinarian to ensure you’re making a great choice for you.

Popular and varied. Cats and dogs are some of the most popular companion animals.  They also come in a wide variety of choices.  Some are quiet and snuggly, some like to work, and some can be aloof.  If you narrowed your search down to a cat or dog, you can use an online breed finder quiz to make a perfect match.

Home preparations. Once you’re aware of your pet’s needs and are sure you’re making a great choice, you can prepare your home accordingly.  Setting up in advance will help your pet become acclimated.  Purchase items you’ll need on hand, such as food, bowls, bedding, a collar, leash, and toys.  If your new friend will live in an aquarium or cage, you should set it up prior to bringing the animal home.  Decide on the primary space where your pet will be located and pet-proof your home, removing any hazardous or poisonous items, setting up boundaries, and securing off-limits areas.

Activities with your pet. By laying a foundation ahead of time, you’ll be able to enjoy bonding with your new pet after his arrival.  Allow your pet time to adjust to the new surroundings.  There may be some mistakes while you both learn each other’s habits and routine.  Set a schedule and stick to it, as the structure will help your pet adjust.  Depending on your pet, you can go for walks or play games, or you may need to give your pet some space.  Most pets enjoy toys of some sort, and some pets can learn tricks or word games.  Animals that come from shelters or rescue situations can be particularly nervous or fearful at first, so be patient.  It can take time for your new friend’s personality to fully emerge.

Welcome home. Becoming a pet owner is exciting, and good planning will help make it a great experience.  Remember you’re adding to your household and lifestyle, so choose carefully.  With these great tips both you and your new friend will be happy!

(Written by Jessica Brody.)