Selection of family pet should be well-thought-out decision

dogs11Families interested in getting a pet should give careful consideration to the type of animal that best fits their lives, according to Tanya Roberts of the Oregon Humane Society. Roberts lists factors each family should weigh, such as how often the animal will be alone and how active the family is. Parents are encouraged to initially visit shelters without their children to evaluate pets before the whole family visits. Finally, once a pet is taken home, Roberts notes that parents must teach children how to interact properly with pets. The Oregonian (Portland)

A busy family with two working parents and a spunky 5-year-old turned recently to Omamas for advice on how to choose the right pet, so we turned to the experts at the Oregon Humane Society.

Tanya Roberts, who manages the training and behavior department for the shelter, helps evaluate the cats and dogs that come into the human society’s shelter. The shelter’s website even allows the public to search for pets that may be a good fit for kids.

She offers these tips:

– Consider your family’s lifestyle and circumstances. Will the pet be home alone much? Is your family an active one? What’s a typical day for your family? How much extra time will you have to spend with a pet?

Those factors should drive your decisions about the type and temperament of the animal best suited to your family, Roberts said. For instance, if your family isn’t home much, a cat may be a better choice than a dog.

“It’s about digging deep within your own situation and coming up with, ‘This is how we envision a pet in our lives,’ ” she said.

Said Roberts: “If you have a family with a lot of activity and you go to the park regularly and you go camping and you want a dog to be integrated with a good part of that, sometimes a good choice is a puppy. You can raise a puppy with all that in mind.”

– Get everyone on the same page. Do Mom, Dad and kids want a cat? Talk about the kind of pet everyone wants and how it would fit into your family. “We speak to some families who only want a large dog or where the dad wants a dog but the rest of the family wants a cat,” she said.

– Consider scoping out potential pets without your young children in tow. This approach limits kids’ disappointment if you leave the shelter without a pet. Roberts said parents often visit the shelter on their own to look for a suitable cat or dog, “then they will place a hold and go home and bring their child back with them.”

“It really saves a lot of stress and time if the parent comes in first,” she said.

– Once your new pet is home, keep a close eye on your child’s interactions with it. If you’re bringing home a cat, talk to your child the importance of being gentle. Teach your child the proper way to pet the cat. If you have a dog, ask your kids not to yell or run around the dog.

“You have to watch your child and train your children how to appropriately interact with pets,” she said.

– Encourage your kids to play with the pet. If you have a new dog, enjoy a game of fetch at the park. Or allow your child to help you hold the dog’s leash on a walk or even teach the dog to sit on command. (Just make sure Mom or Dad is around.)

“Some children are brilliant at training,” she said. “They have that aptitude.”

–- The Oregonian

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