As you may already know, having pets at home can be very positive to your well-being. You probably noticed that your friends who have pets are generally very cheerful when around their animals or even when they just talk about them. This makes you want to become a pet owner as well but before you take that leap, you must find out if your lifestyle is really suitable to become a pet owner in the first place. Here are some factors you should honestly consider that will help you find out.
Do You Have An Appropriate Home For A Pet?
Different pets require suitable homes. Although cats, fish and gerbils can be happy in almost any type of residential dwelling, dogs do better in certain types of homes. Dogs can be quite happy in both houses and high-rise apartments as long as there is access to outdoors nearby.
With dog litter boxes in the market today, many dogs do well in high-rise apartments or condos (I had dogs living with me in high-rise condos for years). However, it is still nice to have parks nearby where they can get fresh air and exercise. All of my dogs were potty trained indoors using either a dog litter box or some equivalent system in a designated location inside. We don’t have to go outdoors if the weather is terrible and I’m not worried if I end up coming home too late. They just go to their dog litter box whenever they need to.
Of course, not all high-rise buildings allow dogs so make sure that you check with your building rules regarding pets before bringing one home. Some do allow pets but only a certain type and/or a certain maximum size. There is also the noise factor, as you don’t want your dog or parrot to annoy your neighbors.
Do You Have The Time For A Pet?
Many young pets like puppies and kittens are so cute that many people can’t resist bringing them home for themselves or their kids. However, the realities of pet ownership soon set in when new owners realize the great responsibilities involved in their care. This includes having the actual time each day for a pet.
The most common domestic pets such as dogs and cats require considerable time. This is especially the case for dogs as they are not happy if left alone for long periods of time. There is a good chance that they will be destroy your home and make unnecessary noise if left alone all the time. If you can’t devote enough daily time to play and interact with your pet, do not get one that requires a lot of time.
Consider pets that are less time demanding such as fish, turtles or gerbils. But remember, you still need time to clean and maintain fish tanks and mice cages. So part of your research should be the amount of time and maintenance required for each type of pet. Be totally honest with yourself as to just how much time you can devote to a pet for the rest of its life.
How Much Travel Do You Do?
Related to the amount of time you have available for a pet, is the amount of travel you do. If you travel extensively overnight away from home for work, you might want to reconsider which type of pet might be best for you, if any at all. If you have other family members or outside people like pet sitters or neighbors who can come and look after your pet while you are away, it might be okay.
However, if you have to end up boarding your animal for two weeks each month during your trips, this might indicate that you should not become a pet owner. A few days of boarding here and there are okay but anything more is not really fair to your pet. After all, how would you like to be put in a boarding kennel for a week each month?
If you have to travel a lot and still want to be a pet owner, consider having animals that might not miss you as much such as fish and turtles. These are easy to take care of by other people while you are away.
Can You Properly Train A Pet?
Another area you really have to be honest with yourself is your own ability and time required to train a pet. Some pets like dogs require a lot of training while others like gerbils, rabbits and turtles will not involve any training since they stay mostly inside their cages. Many dogs and cats have been abandoned because of ignorant owners who failed to properly train their animals.
Dog experts claim that there are really no such things as bad dogs. Instead, there are only bad dog owners who did not adequately provide the right training for their dogs. If you are a potential dog owner, make sure that you get proper dog obedience training, which means education for both yourself as well as your dog. Overall training also includes housetraining for dogs, cats and ferrets.
Do You Have The Budget For Pet Care?
Some pets like dogs, cats and birds can have significant health costs, especially if they get ill or injured. Talk to existing pet owners to find out what their average annual veterinary costs are.
You don’t want to be in a position where you can’t afford the regular and unexpected vet costs for a pet. It is so unfortunate when pet owners have to give up their animals just because they can’t afford the pet care expenses anymore. If these innocent animals cannot get new homes, they are often euthanized as a result.
Do Any Family Members Have Pet Allergies Or Are They Too Young?
If you or any of your family members have allergies to pets, certain animals will not be appropriate for your home. You need pets that your family is not allergic to. Also, some animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs do really well with children as do cats and some breeds of dogs. However, some breeds of dogs and exotic animals might not be appropriate in families with infants and small children. You definitely want to match up a dog breed’s temperament with the age of children you have at home. Again, do your research to assess suitability of specific animals and breeds for your family.
Are You Prepared For A Lifelong Commitment?
Pet ownership should never be on impulse. It’s not fair to the animals especially if they end up getting abandoned or abused. You must do adequate research on what is required in order to be a successful pet owner and prepare for a lifelong commitment to the pet no matter what kind it is.
The rewards and benefits with pet ownership are great, as I’ve experienced with the four Lhasa Apso dogs I’ve owned so far since 1979. However, there are great responsibilities as well and as long as you are realistic about them, the happiness you will have with your pet is limitless. If you can successfully address these factors with complete honesty, then by all means, you deserve to become a dedicated pet owner.
To help new and potential dog owners, speaker/author Clint Cora, a dedicated dog owner since 1979, demonstrates with his dogs the minimum obedience standards in a free dog training video.
Photo credit: ‘Dog‘ by Big Stock
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