How Do You Choose Your Next Family Member?

Did you know that we are genetically wired to think babies are cute? We go ga-ga for the giant eyes of a baby of any species — human, dog or cat! But the best matches when choosing your next family member occur when you’ve done your homework to see what are the best breeds, temperaments, activity levels and grooming commitments are to match your family’s lifestyle. Of course, breeds are just another guide we have and not all members of a breed will perfectly match the description.Image

When you think about bringing a new furbaby into your family, this is a long-term commitment! If you have a brand new puppy like Gizmo, you are looking at the next 10 – 15 years! So you want to look at the breed’s general attributes to see if they are a match for your family. For example, Gizmo is a rescue from a local shelter and we really don’t have any information on his make up but by looking at his features, we are pretty confident he is a boxer mix. I know he’s going to be a pretty active guy and will want to engage in some brain stimulating activities so I’m going to look for some interactive toys for him. I’m also going to engage him right away in some basic obedience training.

Some general things to keep in mind when choosing a dog are the following:

  • What size dog do you want, and is this size compatible with your living quarters?
  • How much time can you spend exercising/training/playing with a dog?
  • What types of activities will you enjoy with your dog? Is your lifestyle active or sedentary?
  • How much can you afford to budget for a good brand of dog food?
  • Do you have a yard or access to a nearby park where your dog can play?
  • How much time and effort can you devote to grooming your dog?

There are many applications available to help you decide what breeds you may be interested in a pet. My favorite resource for information on breeds is Animal Planet. They have an application for choosing the right cat breed or dog breed. Not only do they have some great information on line but also some great shows to give you info on breeds (Dogs 101, Cats 101) and Training (It’s Me or the Dog, My Cat from Hell).

One of the most important ones is your lifestyle. If you have a really high energy dog and a low energy lifestyle, that is not going to be a match made in heaven! I have a friend with a great boxer, Dax. That boy has energy galore! Not only is he in doggy daycare on a daily basis but she also gives him very long walks. On the weekend, I’m always seeing pictures of these five plus mile hikes they go on together. But if Kristen didn’t do everything in her power to exercise her boy, they would not have such a wonderful relationship!

Based on Gizmo’s looks, I bet he’s going to be a really high energy fellow! That should work out well in my home as I have a couple of high energy dogs, and a couple of low energy dogs. We will do what we can to make sure he’s tuckered out before he can cause puppy mischief! I will work with him on general manners and make him ready for his furever home. Lots of walks and exercise in his future!

If you are getting ready to add a new member to your family, I urge you to take all the factors into consideration. Our shelters are filled with adolescent puppies and young adult dogs that are a result of poor planning and owners not understanding what they were signing up for. Don’t just go for the cute factor. Getting a puppy or kitten means that in a few months you have a young dog or cat! Do your research and look for the best fit for your family!

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