Jill Richardson, resident veterinarian at Zootoo.com says a pet is a commitment for the life of the animal. Before buying one, families should keep a variety of factors in mind such as their annual veterinary visits, preventative medicine, time with caregivers which includes feeding, brushing, playing and walking.
Her advice? "I recommend "test driving" a pet before you make a firm commitment. You could sign up to foster a homeless pet from a rescue group or even borrow a family members' pet so you can understand what you will be in for when choosing to buy a permanent pet."
Once you decide to get a pet, the question is which type to get. Here's a little hint: keep allergies in mind. She explains, "If you or your family member has allergies, you want to first check with your doctor to see if pet ownership is right for you. Unfortunately, there are no dogs that are completely hypoallergenic, but there are some breeds, such as schnauzers and poodles, that could be considered with allergy sufferers."
As a trainer for six years, Tania Chaisson knows a thing or two about dogs. Since taking care of your pet should be a family activity, so should the decision making process says Chaisson. "A
puppy, or even a rescued dog, is something the whole family should have a say in. It should never be a surprise. Careful consideration should be given to the timing of such an important addition.
Are the children old enough and responsible enough to help feed and care for the dog? Are the parents purchasing this animal knowing that the reality is this - the dog will be their responsibility,
not the children's. Are the parents ready to handle middle of the night potty breaks, crate training, daily exercise, obedience training, the cleaning of accidents, positive reinforcement, proper
socialization and regular grooming? A dog is not something you can return to the big box store with a proper receipt. A dog is a commitment that should be taken very seriously."
In fact, Richardson recommends creating a clear, easy-to-read list of daily duties. "A list that is in an area where the entire family frequents should make sure that the tasks are completed each day. Most experts suggest that a dog should be fed 2-3 times a day and given free access to fresh water at all time. Make sure you check with your veterinarian on the particular dog food that they recommend for your pet. A dog should also be walked about 4-6 times a day. Frequent walking allows your pet to learn to eliminate outside and also gives them a few minutes of fresh air and exercise."
Family responsibilities equate to family fun for Mary DeMuth and her husband who got a dog, Pippin, for their children last year. They researched kid-friendly breeds and settled on a golden retriever found at a local golden retriever rescue in Dallas. "He was seven. I was thrilled. Housetrained!" The responsibilities are a family affair as Mary's three kids all chip in to take care of Pippin. "Kids help walk him, feed him and pick up poop in the yard."
Above all the homework to select a dog and tender loving care and attention once you get one, having a dog can add happiness to a family. Richardson notes, "Research shows that pets can make
us healthier, just by being in our homes." She emphasizes the importance of selecting the right type of pet for your family and home. "Take time and look around, there are so many
wonderful dogs out there that are in need of a forever home."
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