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How to pick the right pet for your home 💖

Updated: Apr 6, 2023

There are so many wonderful animals available for adoption, it can be hard to know who to pick!

Even choosing which species to adopt can be tough.You might have grown up with a cat but dreamed of adopting a dog. Perhaps you love dogs but your spouse is allergic.

When it comes to adopting a pet, here are 3 important questions to ask yourself before you commit to a specific animal. Remember, adopting is a lifelong commitment, so you want to be sure you find the right match!

Question 1: Do you live in an apartment or a house?

For apartment dwellers, you’ll want to stick with a smaller animal. There are so many of them! In addition to dogs and cats, consider guinea pigs and rabbits; they are small but they pack lots of personality. And they’re not just for kids. If you don’t have a lot of space, bunnies or guinea pigs can be the perfect furry companions. “If your heart is set on a cat, most cats will be perfectly happy in a small apartment,” says DCSPCA executive director Lynne Meloccaro. “Especially if they have ‘vertical space,’ that is, trees or cat shelves so that they can have additional room on high.” Dogs can live in apartments but generally it is better to choose a smaller breed. Large dogs may become frustrated in close quarters and could be destructive.

One thing you’ll want to be sure of when bringing any new pet into an apartment is that they won’t be bullied by any other animals in the space; territorial disputes in a small space is not fun for you or them and will promote disharmony. If you want multiple pets and don’t have any resident pets already, you might want to adopt 2 cats you know already get along. Just ask us if we have any bonded pairs! An apartment is also a great home for a special needs cat who might have a tough time navigating a large home.

If you’d like to bring a dog into an apartment, first, check with your landlord to see if there are any limitations on dogs you’re permitted to have in your home. Live in a house that you rent? You’ll also need to check with your landlord before bringing home a new furry friend. However, if you own your house, the sky’s the limit.

If you live in a house without children, you might want to consider bringing home a dog who needs to work on their manners. These dogs have a harder time finding homes but can be wonderful and loving pets if you have the time to devote to training them. They are just waiting for their second chance at a good life. Ask us for those dogs who need a little help with their training.

Question 2: What is your lifestyle?

If you spend a lot of time away from your home, an independent-minded cat could be a fantastic match. We have plenty of cats here who are perfectly content to spend time by themselves or with a feline friend when you’re at work or at social events.

Dogs on the other hand, generally do not want to be alone. They are better suited to homes where you’re around to hang out with them and take them on walks. Have a fenced-in yard? Even better, but never leave them unattended in a yard. We deal regularly with cases of escaped dogs and even worse, stolen dogs from yards when the owner is inside the house. Some dogs enjoy the company of other dogs, and for them, there’s the possibility of doggy daycare while you’re at work. But make sure you know this about them before you adopt. Some dogs are more selective with the other dogs they hang out with and for them, group play sessions (doggy daycare, dog parks, etc) won’t be possible. All dogs need some quality time with their humans, no matter what their preferences are with other dogs. Especially if they have training work to do. If you find you’re hardly ever home, please take that into consideration when adopting.

We often have dogs here at DCSPCA who love to go hiking with their humans. If you’re outdoorsy, do we have dogs for you! One of the greatest gifts you can give a high-energy rescue dog is your company on outdoor adventures. And they will make your time outside so much more fun.

Question 3: What stage of life are you in?

If you’re in your twenties or thirties and anticipating having children, it’s best to adopt accordingly. Be sure to take home a pet who will be OK with young kids. However, if the kids have grown and flown, you could open your home to a pet who might be more challenged in finding a forever home. There are many cats, for instance, who are just a little spicy and would not do well with young children. But they are truly wonderful pets who could be fantastic companions to fill your empty nest. Also keep in mind that a cat can be a 20 year commitment. If you believe it is possible that you could end up in a condition where you can no longer care for your pet, you need a plan for a friend or family member to take them–otherwise they could end up in a shelter, and that is very, very hard on a cat or dog that has lived in one home their entire life.

Studies have shown that children who grow up with animals develop feelings of responsibility and empathy. But don’t rely on children entirely to take care of their pets. Teach them about their care but in the end it is your responsibility to ensure a pet in your house gets the care, love and attention they deserve.

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