Choosing a pet for you and your family should not be a hasty decision. That puppy may be cute and utterly adorable when you bring him home, but will he still be adorable when he chews up the couch, has accidents on the rug, or chases the cat around the house? For some that puppy just needs some training and is still, utterly adorable. For others, that puppy becomes a big mistake and is soon moving on to his next home. So how do you pick a dog or other pet to take home? Taking time to research and learn all you can about a possible new pet before you bring him home will set you and your pet up for a great long term relationship. 

Research each pet that interests you.

Whether it is a dog, cat, parrot, ferret, or all of the above that has caught your interest, spend some time researching the different pets to learn about their care needs and temperament. Clubs, internet message boards, and websites like RightPet are all helpful tools in learning about what pet you might want to get.

Focus on the temperament of the pets.

A pet that fits well into your family and your lifestyle will be enjoyed much more than one that doesn’t and drives you crazy. Learn about the energy level of the pet and some of the natural personality characteristics of the species or breed. If you have children, then a type of pet that tends to be good with children is a good idea. If you like the peaceful laid back lifestyle, then a high-strung pet like a Jack Russell terrier or a cockatoo is certainly not a good idea.

Determine how much time you have to devote to your pet.

If you don’t have the time to go for walks daily, clean cages daily, or scoopt the kitty litter box daily, then choose a pet that does not require such daily care and maintenance. This applies to training time as well. Pet tarantulaMany pets such as dogs and parrots need daily training while others to teach good behaviors and prevent problems such as nonstop barking or screaming, like cats, require little training.

Calculate your budget and the monthly cost of the pet.

Only choose a pet that you can afford. Your pet budget needs to include food, pet supplies, and veterinary care. Some pets are more expensive than others (like parrots). Make sure you are prepared for the costs of caring for the pet. Hint: The initial adoption fee is not usually the biggest cost. If you find the adoption fee is too high, look at your budget again to be sure you can afford the food, housing, toys, and medical care for that pet.

Pick a pet that you want to be part of your family and your life.

Don’t get a pet that you are just going to warehouse in a cage in a closed back room, or ignore in the backyard day and night. This is not fair to the pet, nor is it responsible pet ownership. Only get a pet that you want to have as part of the family, this means a pet that you allow and want to spend time with you and your family.

Decide on a baby or an adult pet.

Puppies, kittens, and baby parrots take much more time, training, and knowledge to raise into a well adjusted adult pet that you can enjoy for a lifetime. Baby rats, hamsters, and snakes are fairly easy to raise into well adjusted adult pets. Pick a pet that you know you can handle from babyhood, through teenage hood (yes, many pets have a teenage stage), and as an adult. It’s ok to admit that your perfect pet may not be a cute baby pet.

Rethink the exotic pets.

If you are leaning towards the exotic such as a turtle, snake, iguana, or macaw then take more time to do your research. Exotic pets required much more knowledge about food, housing, medical care, and behavior than domesticated pets. They also tend to cost more to care for, especially when it comes to veterinary care. Dogs, cats, and other domestic animals have been bred to live in our world. Exotics are still wild animals; they are not naturals when it comes to living in our world. Make sure you are prepared for this. Exotics pets that make great pets have expert pet owners.

Plan to make a lifetime commitment to the pet.

Getting a pet means making a commitment to care for that pet for its life. To do this you will need to know how long the pet will live and know that you can care for that pet for that length of time. Do you want to make a 50 plus year commitment to an African grey parrot? How about a 20-year commitment to a cat? Maybe a 3-year commitment to a rat is best for you. Although there may be events in your life, such as a job loss, that prevent you from keeping your pet forever, you should get a pet with the intention of giving them a good forever home.