Why is “Pet Selection” Important

IMG_2759In the last many years, I have started talking more about pet selection with clients and potential new pet owners. This topic has been around a long time but many people believe they already know what pet would be best for their situation.   In my years of observing pet owners I have developed many reasons to disagree with this statement.

With the numbers of pets in shelters and foster homes on the rise, we definitely have owners that are not being responsible after getting their new pet. Why would they chose to not care properly for that pet? What causes them to not search for that pet after it is missing?   If you stop and think about it, the pets you see in shelters are not puppies and kittens. They are the adult pets that have broken the bond with their owners and have been forgotten. People abandon their pets because that pet did not match their family or lifestyle.

The lack of training, exercise, and socialization of a young puppy or kitten is a big issue. I wish all puppies and their owners were required to take puppy classes. I would like to see cats go more places with their owners so they would become more tolerant of new situations or people. The only place many kittens or cats go is to the veterinarian. If every time you got into your car you went to the doctor, wouldn’t you decide not to get into that car? The window of opportunity to socialize a new kitten or puppy is very short. Behavioralists feel most kittens need lots of human contact prior to 9 week of age to be well adjusted as adult cats. With puppies that time frame is 16 weeks. Therefore, if getting a new pet you must find time in the first many weeks to expose that pet to as many people, of all ages, as well as new experiences.

So how does this relate to pet selection? If you have a very busy schedule and are gone 10 hours a day maybe this is not the best time for you to get a new pet.   If you live in the Midwest and have to walk your pet in the winter and that does not appeal to you then you should reconsider getting that puppy at this time. Maybe you just had a baby and thought it would be great to let the pet and child grow up together, but did not realize that having a pet is like having another child in the house. The pet you selected is destroying your furniture, chewing up your shoes, peeing in the wrong places, scratching or biting you or your family members and none of this is what you expected. Let me tell you, all these things are normal behaviors, but with training and patience they can be corrected. Of course you must have the right advice and the time to spend teaching your pet good behaviors.   If we waited to give our children boundaries until they were 16 do you think we would have much success making them well adjusted adults? I have many clients who tell me that their pet is to young to start training. A puppy and kitten go from birth to 16 years of age in their first year when comparing them to our years. We need to mold their behaviors starting at the toddler stage which is the first few months.

Pet Selection tests are available online from a variety of resources. Some are designed to help you find the right breed of dog for your family. I would encourage you to first take a pet selection test to determine if your family is ready for the pet you think at this time. If the test suggests you get a dog, then take the dog breed selection test to determine what type of dog would be best for your family and lifestyle. Here is one of many pet selection quizzes: What Pet is Best For You? – AllTheTests.com. When taking this test you must be completely honest about how much time and money your family will have to care for your new pet for the next 15-20 years.

At Winterset Veterinary Center we would love to help you decide if this is the right time for a new pet. Or what type of pet would be best. When selecting a pet you need to make a lifetime committement to care for it emotionally, physically, and financially. Make certain all of your pets have FOREVER HOMES!

Contact us at 515-462-2650. Our hours are M-F 7:30 – 5:30 pm, Sat 7:30 – 12:00 pm.