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Choosing the Right Pet for Your Family – Part 1

Last updated on February 24, 2020

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An image of a cat and dog cuddling

Choosing The Right Pet For Your Family


Most individuals have an idea just what type of pet they want; however, the maintenance of a pet can surely cause some concern. Knowing how to choose the correct pet for you may be easy or somewhat difficult. You may have had several pets as a child and know you need a companion for your own home or you may have always wanted a pet but been told you could not have one. Whatever the case you may need to take into consideration some key points to pet care when deciding what pet is right for you.

Amount of Care Required

First, some pets take more care than others. Dogs are very needy animals. They are very sensitive towards their owners. I am sure most of you have heard of dogs tearing up a house when left along all day. Dogs can get bored even when they have other dog companions and toys. They need human interaction. Most dog owners take their dogs out for a walk before work and after work for the exercise and play time. Other owners who work outside will often let their dogs come to work with them to keep them out of trouble. Cats on the other hand can amuse themselves and as long as you put your valuables on a shelf, they cannot reach and keep a clean house they will sleep, look out windows, and play with toys while you are away. Fish are another type of pet that is typically low maintenance except for cleaning the fish tank.  A bird can also be a fairly low maintenance pet – requiring food, water and cage cleaning.  Every type of pet does require a certain amount of attention and care, some more than others

Types of Care

Pet care is very important when you own a pet. They need:

  • attention from their owners
  • positive reinforcement
  • training
  • love

Fish are usually excluded from this statement, as they just need food, proper tank maintenance, and a few plants to sustain life, however the point is proper pet care is required when you own any pet. The decision will be yours to make in choosing what the right pet is for you.

Above I mentioned several types of pets and a little about their care, now I am going to look at it a little more.

Caring for a Dog

While dogs are high maintenance and require the most training, they are also one of the best pets to own. They can alert you to danger, alert you to someone at the door, and give unconditional love back. A dog only asks in return that you give them proper care and a great deal of attention. If you cannot be home all the time, you will want to make sure the dog has a roof over their heads in case of inclement weather, and a large fenced yard to play in. Some dogs can jump fences so it may be best to have a dog run in the yard so they can move about, but not escape.  One dog I had was a true houdini in excaping our backyard.  Flying over the fence like a deer and climging out of the chainlink 10 foot pen.
We finally had to get an electric dollar and remote wireless fence and he finally learned the boundaries.

Caring for a Cat

Cats on the other hand can be high or low maintenance depending on breed as well as personality. Some cats require hours of people attention while others shirk attention. Some cats belong to a one pet household. They do not like to share their owner’s affections and will become upset if not mean towards the infiltrator. Others need the playmate’s attention to live happily. It will be hard to determine just which type of cat you own when you first buy them as kittens as their personalities are just developing.

The level of pet care required (and expense) are the most important factors when you are deciding which pet is right for you and your home. You will want to consider all the pet care needs of the animals you are looking at as well as the breed you are looking at to determine if they will have a happy place in your home and be the correct companion to you and your family.

Let’s talk Dogs – How to choose the right dog for Your Family?

There are several things to consider when choosing the right dog for your family.

Make an assessment of your current lifestyle and how a dog might fit in.  Ask yourself questions like these:

  1. Do you have children living in your home or visiting often?
  2. Are there elderly people living with you who could fall or be harmed by a lively dog underfoot?
  3. Does anyone in your family have allergies to dog dander?
  4. Are you away from home and would be leaving your pet by itself for many hours at a time?
  5. Can you afford to feed a dog and keep up with the necessary (and reqired) immunizations?
  6. Are you willing to spend time in raining, loving on and playing with and exercising a dog?

Dogs are known as “man’s best friend” for a reason.  A dog can become a fun, loving companion, a protector of your home, children and yourself, a receiver of your secrets and a great listener to your dreams and your griefs.  Dogs have short term memories and live in the present moment, so they will be very forgiving of your negative moods and actions to them – they will want to please you and receive your attention a lot – you and your family are their life!

Gilda Radner Quote
“I think dogs are the most amazing creatures. They give unconditional love. For me, they are the role model of being alive”.

Then again, dogs do have good long-term memories and will grow to love you if you are good to them and will want to be constantly by your side, even to the point of touching you constantly.  Our dog, “Boaz – Bo”,  is a true “velcro” dog – shadowing my husband all over the house wherever he goes.  My husband is his chosen favorite and Bo, will go to him over me all the time.  But my husband feeds him, walks him, takes him hiking, riding in the truck and even inside some stores (Lowes, Tractor Supply, and pet stores).  During warm weather they even have a “date” every Saturday morning to go to the “farmers market together”.  I am happy to say that when my husband is gone, Boaz will follow me around and let me love and pet on him.  Because I am in a wheelchair, he has learned to be careful with his paws and where he lays.  He knows my husband will step over him but I can’t.

What Size of Dog Would be Right for You?

Dogs come in many sizes, from the tiny mini’s to huge Mastifs and every size in between.  If you choose a small dog, you must remember that they can be stepped on and harmed farily easily.  They can also be more sensitive to extremes of heat and cold and may require living inside your home.

Large dogs will need to have room to move about and play.  If your home is a “showcase” with lots of fragile nicknacks and pretty things, a large dog may not be your best choice to allow to live inside your home.  But even if they are “outside” pets, they need lots of attention and loving from you. If they are to be outside, then you need a secure fenced area for them with shade, a covered area or doghouse for when it rains and lots of water for them.  Never chain or tie a dog to secure it unless you are holding the other end of the leash.  Dogs need room to move and explore. Image of Bo at picnic with my husband

However a larger dog can do well inside under the right circumstances and if they get lots of exercise.  Our dog, Bo, is a Giant Schnauzer (weighing 130 pounds) and he is a house dog.  My husband walks him several times a day and throws his ball for fetch every day unless its raining.  Bo loves to go on picnics with us and chase his balls with my husband.   Bo is truly a house dog, but is not allowed on our furniture because he is large enough to mess it up.  Bo has a bed in our living room and the bedroom where he sleeps.  He has several toys he plays with and a ropey toy he and my husband play tug on often.  I try to play tug of war with him but he is actually stronger than I am and he wins too much but still likes me to play with him.  Bo and I bond when I pet him and give him back massages and when we go through the different commands he knows (sit, down, stand etc.) He loves the treats he gets when he obeys.  Bo also gets treats when he brings in the paper for my husband every morning and when he brings in my UPS boxes and packages that are left on our porch.  Bo loves to hear the UPS truck coming up the street.  Bo is large even for a Giant Schnauzer and has a dark fully fur coat that makes him seem even larger when it is grown out between groomings.  Groomings for a large dog like Bo can cost close to $100 each trip and he is on a special diet too and meds for a thyroid disorder.  Things like grooming, medications and food need to be considered in choosing a dog for your family also.  They can be quite an extra expense at times.

Types of Hair or Fur

When choosing a dog, you need to consider that they will require care of their coat.  Shorthaired dogs will shed and need to be brushed and bathed.  If your dog is to be a “house” dog, consider whether you want to allow him/her on the furniture or beds.  Shedding hair can be an issue.  Or you might choose a dog that doesn’t really shed.  Some small dogs that don’t shed are the Maltese, the Toy Poodle, the Yorkshire Terrier, the Miniature Schnauzer.  Several of these will require grooming though and all dogs benefit by frequent brushing of their coats.  Brushing is also a way to give your dog some loving attention that can be fun for both of you.

Some larger dogs that do not shed include Kerry Blue Terriers,  Bedlington Terriers, Wire Fox Terriers, Airedale Terriers, Soft-Coated Wheaten Terriers, Basenjis, Irish Water Spaniels and the larger Schnauzers (like our Bo).

Whether you choose a dog with a short, smooth coat or a fuzzy longer coat, all will require some care and of course bathing at times.  There are many dogs to choose from.

A note of caution. Even dogs that do not shed can still trigger allergies in a person that is allergic.  Many people are allergic to a dog’s dander or saliva, which all dogs spread throughout their surroundings.

Which Breed of Dog?

Dogs come in all shapes and sizes, ages and levels of activeness.  There are certainly great purebred dogs that you would have to purchase from a breeder.  Choosing a purebred pet is up to you, but they can be quite expensive and some breeds are more disposed to specific health issues.  Do your research first.

Consider the following:

  1. What is the typical temperment of the breed?
  2. What activity level does the breed require?
  3. Are there health challenges for the specific breed?
  4. Does your city or neighborhood have pet laws and what are they?
  5. Will the breed fit into your family (good around children, the elderly, other animals in the household, etc.) and your lifestyle (travel, vacations, social life, etc.)?
  6. Can you find a responsible breeder?

Be sure and consider mixed breeds of dogs. Many mixed breeds (mutts) tend to be healthier than purebreds and the mixture of breed temperaments can make a wonderful animal.  Also, choosing a mixed breed allows you to “shop” at many local shelters and dog rescues and meet your dog in person.  You could be saving that animal from euthanasia.

Most animal shelters have a website or facebook group that will have pictures and some information about the animals available for adoption.

Bella Vista Animal Shelter

Here in Bella Vista, Arkansas, we have our own animal Shelter.  The Bella Vista Animal Shelter (website) and (Facebook group). Shelters would love for you to visit and check out the animals available for adoption.  They usually have specifi tasks that volunteers can help with in caring and socializing the different animals also.  Why not visit your local shelter and learn mroe about it. Since 2016 the adoption/reclaim and rescue rate has been a phenomenal 98% and the euthanasia rate has dropped to 2%. Laurie May has been the shelter manager since 2015.

Contact info:

Address:
32 Bella Vista Way
Bella Vista, AR 72714
USA
Phone
: (479) 855-6020

Hours:
Mon Closed
Tue 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Wed 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Thu 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Fri 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Sat 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Sun 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Rogers Animal Services

Rogers, Arkansas has a shelter also.  Rogers Animal Services (website) and (Facebook)

Contact info:

Address:
2935 W. Oak St.
Rogers, AR 72756
Phone
: 479-621-1197

Hours:

Mon – CLOSED
Tue 10:00 am – 4:30 pm
Wed 10:00 am – 4:30 pm
Thu 10:00 am – 4:30 pm
Fri 10:00 am – 4:30 pm
Sat 10:00 am – 4:30 pm
Sun – CLOSED

Summary

If you are considering a pet for your family remember that be it cat, dog, fish, hampster, etc, most are a domestical living being that will be completely dependent on you and your family.  They can’t fend for themselves in this world, feed themselves or deal with the many dangers of adverse weather, traffic on roads and streets, and people who are mean and sometimes brutal to animals. They need us to be able to have an enjoyable life.  But in return they will give us unconditional love and lots of moments filled with fun and laughter.  They will become an important and never forgotten part of our families.

Image image of Bo at Christmas amongst my familyOur Boaz is a major figure in our family dynamics, Bo provides company for my husband when he is hiking, he goes kayaking with us, he guards me when I am home alone, he greets visitors to our home and lets us know when they are at the door or in our driveway.  He follows our grandchildren around and goes on trips with us.  He loves to ride in the convertible with us as we explore the beautiful roads and drives in the scenic Ozark Mountains of Arkansas and Missouri.  Bo takes part in most of our family activites and loves us uncontionally.

This is an end to Part 1 of Choosing the Right Pet for Your family.  “Choosing the Right Pet for Your Family – Part 2 Felines” will be available soon, as well as my “2020 Review of Grooming Tools for Pets”.

Comments

I love to receive comments and questions from site visitors, please leave yours below – shirley

Also you might check out The Pet Shop on the Bella Vista Online Mall.

10 Comments

  1. Hi! I love your article and I love animals 2! It is great that you help people choosing the right pet, because there are so many people who treat animals as objects they can buy and then sell again when they get tired of it. This really makes me so sad. I have had pets all my life and they all stayed until they have taken their last breath.. I currently have pets small and big. I have a bird, two cats, one big dog (my small dog died recently at age 15) and a horse. I have adopted one cat from a different country, it came from Spain to Belgium :), and the horse was a former dressage horse, but since it couldn`t be ridden anymore I adopted it from its former owner and now it is here with me to enjoy its retirement. I would highly recommend adoption to anyone! I am looking forward to read new articles from you!

    • Erika, thank you for visiting my site, reading the article and your comment. Sounds like you do love critters a lot. Curious about the horse. Do you not ride it? I’ve had several dogs and yes, they all died, some I cried a lot for and still miss. I’m hoping our Boaz will last a while. Giant Schnauzers have a potential lifespan of 12-14 years. He’s five now. You have a great day -Shirley

  2. Hi Shirley. Great article. Thank you for the detail. We have always had dogs and have been totally conscious that the ownership of any pet is a responsibility. We had a neighbor who bought a dog for their daughter because she just wanted one. Not understanding the responsibility required the dog was in a shelter within the second week. Not right.
    We had always had golden retriever but the last one was a groodle for various different reasons. All went to training school. All were educated how to be part of a family, even to the extent that when my mother was in a nursing home, our dog was able to walk in and say hello to her “grandmother.”
    I agree and thank you for all your advice.
    Stephen.

    • Thanks Stephen for reading my article and your comments. I love dogs too, our Bo does go into the nursing home where my mother in law is and everyone loves to see him. He does fine in her room but we never take him into the cafeteria because I don’t trust his training that much. He is 5 now and he can still learn when I take time to work with him, but leash walking is not something he is good at. I can’t walk him in my wheelchair and my dh doesn’t have the patience to train him to not pull. Too bad, because I’m sure he could learn to not pull. I think training is important for your dogs and I think they enjoy learning new things. Thanks for your comment. -Shirley

  3. JohnJohn

    Thanks for the interesting post. I like how you gave details of the differences between cats and dogs and the different breeds. We have two cats but we also like dogs and would have some of them as well if we lived in a house that had a yard. I enjoyed the information you shared and will be using your site a lot.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • John, thanks for visiting my site, reading my article and your comment. I’m planning on several more articles on pets in the near future. Thanks again. -Shirley PS: I love both cats and dogs but dogs are my favorites.

  4. Just checked out your article on pets. I never owned a pet but had the opportunity to help my brother with his pet, Buttercup, and it was a new experience for me. I enjoyed the interaction with his pet. Thanks so much for this article.

    • Elizabeth, thanks for reading my post and your comment. I’m curious, is “Buttercup” a dog or cat or what? It kind of sounds like a cat name to me? Thanks again. -Shirley

  5. Fantastic post so much good information on choosing the right dog for you

    • Thanks Paul for reading my article and your kind comment. I’m a pet person and love to research and write information on pets. You have a great day. -Shirley

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