How To Choose The Right Dog or Cat for You

Introducing a new pet into your home can be extremely exciting, yet this idea of a new comforting companion can easily cloud your judgement. Whether you’ve always been a pet owner or you are looking to take on a pet for the first time, there are many essential factors to consider.

Cats and dogs are two of the most common household pets, and while most people are aware of whether they identify more as a cat or a dog person, choosing the right breed can be more of a challenge.

Choosing a pet is a big decision, and there are so many factors to consider to ensure you choose the right breed for you. However, we’re not here to take the fun out of getting a new pet, but rather to provide you with some advice and details to make the process of choosing slightly easier. Most of all, to ensure you find the perfect pet for you and your lifestyle, guaranteed to become a lifelong companion.

What to Consider Before Choosing a Pet

Even if you’re certain of the type of animal you want to bring into your home, there are a few lifestyle factors to consider that can help confirm your decision and assist you in caring for your new pet.

Personal budget, costs and affordability

Depending on the type of animal and breed you decide to get, there will be different upfront and ongoing costs associated. These include:

  • Potential upfront fees including vaccination, microchipping, desexing and the cost of purchasing the animal.
  • Potential ongoing fees: food, worming, annual health checks, vet bills, training, toys, bedding and pet sitting.
  • According to a study commissioned by the Australian Companion Animal Council, the average cost of owning a dog per annum is $1056, and owning a cat is $602.

The Type of Area and Size of Space you Have

Having a comfortable environment for your pet is important no matter what animal you have. However, it is important to remember that different animals require different areas and spaces to thrive and live comfortably. You need to consider whether you have a suitable space, or if not, whether you’re prepared to find or create a suitable space for your new pet.

  • Does the pet require a backyard?
  • Are you allowed pets where you live (or only specific types of pets)?
  • Consider the pets’ access to light and outdoor areas.
  • Consider enclosed balconies, doggy doors, and flooring types.

Time Commitment

The idea of owning a pet can be extremely appealing, but without a realistic and adequate amount of time, you may not be able to care for and enjoy the company of your pet adequately. Different animals require different levels of attention, care and time, so not to worry, there is a pet out there for you!

  • Will your pet be okay if you are at work all day?
  • Do you have options for someone to care for your pet while you are away or on holiday?
  • Will you have the time/be willing to walk or exercise your pet regularly?
  • Consider the lifespan of the pet you choose.

Knowing how to Care for Your Pet

Different species require different levels of care, so it’s important to understand and research your chosen species or crossbreed and ask for information from the organisation or breeder.

  • This includes how much exercise the pet needs.
  • Find out any potential health problems with the animal.
  • Consider your time and personal capability to care for different animal types.

Preferred Animal Characteristics

Different animals, and their subsequent breeds, have varying characteristics you may want to consider. This factor is extremely personal, and can truly help you find a pet you can make a meaningful bond with.

  • Are they active, playful, affectionate, kid-friendly, etc.?
  • Do they enjoy the company of other animals – will it be more beneficial if your pet has another pet to play with?

Choosing a Dog Breed

Choosing a Dog Breed

Depending on the breed, different dogs can have extremely different personalities, behaviours and requirements. Studies have repeatedly shown that dog ownership can have great health benefits for humans when they can create a healthy, emotional relationship with their pet dog.

This is why it’s important to consider what matters to you, so you can identify the characteristics you are looking for in a dog.

Adapts well to Apartment Living

If you live in a small apartment or home, a pet that can adapt well to such an environment is essential for both your and the pet’s comfort. Contrary to popular belief, small dogs aren’t always the best options for small homes, as they are often too high energy and yappy. Look for low energy, quiet, and calm dogs that can be easily exercised indoors including breeds such as Basenji, Bichon Frise, Boston Terrier, and Chihuahua.

Affectionate with Family and Guests

There is concrete scientific support that pets can play healthy support roles in family dynamics, so for many, an affectionate dog is very appealing.

Different dog breeds act differently no matter what environment they were raised in, however, some can potentially be trained to be more affectionate through treats and constant affection from humans. If you are looking for a naturally affectionate pet, suitable breeds include Great Dane, Pug, Golden Retriever, Boxer, and Pit Bulls.

Amount of Shedding

Some people have the environment, household or time available to clean where they don’t mind if their dog sheds a lot. However, shedding can be frustrating to deal with depending on your situation, so it could be ideal to look for a dog that sheds minimally.

Some dogs shed year-round, others seasonally, but relatively low shedding dog breeds include Australian Terrier, Basenji, Bearded Collie, Cane Corso, Greyhound, Poodle, and Maltese.

Kid-Friendly

Dogs that are gentle with kids may be an essential factor for you when choosing a pet. While a lot of your dog’s friendliness towards children depends on the way you raise them, their breed does play a role in this as well.

Some dog breeds are simply more docile and lively, ready to play, including Beagle, Collie, Alaskan Malamute, Boston Terrier and Labrador Retriever.

Cat Breeds

Cat Breeds

Cats are very different animals from dogs, and they have some different characteristics you may want to consider. Not only do cats tend to live for 10-20 years, so consider the commitment before buying the pet, but you must ensure to properly introduce the cat to your home to ensure its comfort.

Personality

While dogs have different personalities and attitudes, cat breeds with different personalities are a little more extreme. If socialised well, kittens are genuinely curious and unafraid of people, growing into more mature, quiet and well-behaved cats.

Different breeds can be naturally shy, independent, or interactive, but at the end of the day, the type of cat personality you would prefer is entirely up to you. Consider why you want to buy a cat to help you decide what personality would work best for you.

Gender

The hormonal differences with cats depending on their gender can greatly impact their behaviour. Male cats tend to wander, mark their territory and fight more, while female cats tend to be very vocal and affectionate.

Age

While cats of all ages can make wonderful pets, their age can impact their behaviour and care requirements. Kittens are more cute, fun and playful, but generally take more time as you will be shaping a lot of their behaviour and personality. Adult cats have already developed a full personality, and senior cats are generally calmer and grateful to be taken care of, but can often require more care and afterlife planning.

Energy Level

Different to dogs, cats can generally occupy themselves no matter their energy levels and require less human engagement to exercise them. If you prefer a more low energy cat to snuggle with, some suitable breeds include American Shorthair, Persian, Ragdoll, Maine Coon, and Russian Blue.

Ultimately, there are many personal factors to evaluate before you begin to consider the characteristics of the animal. Choosing a pet can be an extensive process, but choosing well can mean you live a happy life together with your pet.

It is important to consider all stages of a pet’s life from birth, socialising, loving and aftercare. Pets in Peace can help you through every stage of this journey, from choosing the pet for you, to supporting you in the process of pet aftercare. Contact Pets in Peace for advice, or a range of the services they offer.

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