Not sure if you're a dog or cat person but researching your first pet? Great! Taking a look at your current living situation may help you to determine whether to welcome a feline or canine or perhaps a different critter entirely!
These loyal fur-faces require more time, attention, and money than most other critters. Because they're pack animals by nature, they're often more social than cats. Consider how much time they'll need for exercise and playtime. If you travel a lot or have a job that requires long hours away from home, a dog might not be the best pet. Plan to spend at least $20 monthly on food, and remember to factor in grooming costs, too. On the other hand, dogs make great watch animals and companions. You'll have a buddy who can't wait to accompany you on adventures and gives unconditional love.
Feisty felines are more independent than dogs, but they still enjoy spending time with their people. Generally, they're neater and cost less to maintain; you don't have to walk them in all weather, but there is the litter box. Most cats don't require grooming assistance, and their natural independence complements a lifestyle that includes long days away from home. When you do finally crash on the couch, your lap will quickly attract furry company. Cat or a Dog? These questions are worth considering if you can't decide.
1. Do you enjoy spending time outside? If so, a dog makes the perfect companion and playmate. Few cats enjoy the constraints of a leash.
2. Do you like to go for walks? Dogs need regular, daily exercise, and many dogs need walking at least twice a day, regardless of the weather. If you discover you're short on time to walk your dog, consider hiring a dog walker to help out.
3. How old are your kids? Some experts recommend waiting until they're between 7 and 9 to get a dog, but the answer varies from family to family.
4. How do you feel about fur? If you're obsessive about a clean house, carefully consider the breed of dog or cat. Some breeds shed much less than others; other breeds require regular brushing and professional grooming.
5. Does anyone in your household have allergies? If so, you'll want to research breeds less likely to induce allergic reactions.
6. How do you feel about 'needy' critters? Dogs love to hang with their people; you'll rarely be alone. They'll greet you with excitement whenever they see you and want to spend most (if not all) of their waking time in your presence. Most cats seek affection on their own terms, not yours.
7. Do you have time for obedience school and reinforcement you'll need to provide that training for your dog initially and then continue to reinforce desired behaviors; dogs look to you for leadership since they want to please you. Cats don't require that level of training, although you may need to take measures to keep a curious feline off kitchen counters or from other spaces where you'd prefer she not venture.
Once you've made your choice, prepare your home for a smooth transition. Here's a list of items you might need, depending on the critter: food/water bowls, bedding, litter box, collar, leash, toys, carrier, crate, grooming tools, and nail clippers.
Also, double-check your home for poisonous plants, cords, and other potential pet health hazards. Set aside a room or space where your new pet can seek a safe space to relax away from the main traffic flow.
Bonding and Adjusting
Set routines right away, cats and dogs both thrive on routine: feeding time, playtime, sleep, and exercise. Be patient. Some animals will blend in and bond immediately like they've been members of the family for years. Others take a bit more time to warm up to a new situation. Encourage everyone to give new pets their space, but spend time playing, petting, and cuddling the new critters, too, take your cues from their behavior.
What matters most is that you've welcomed a fur-face, who'll love you and your family unconditionally, into your home. Have fun and enjoy the snuggles!
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