5 Tips for Picking a New Family Dog or Cat

dog on a stick

Welcoming a new furry friend to the family is an exciting event for everyone. If you grew up with a dog or cat and have been jonesing to add one to your own family, it probably feels like a milestone. Your kids will notice, too, that this new family member requires something of them—and they’ll likely jump at the chance to help. That is, if you choose a pet who tugs at their heartstrings. Since pets really do become members of the family, it’s important that you put a lot of energy and forethought into finding the right one for your kids, you, and your significant other. Follow these tips to make sure you end up with a furry friend who’s going to stand the test of time in your household:

  1. Consider space. There are a few practical concerns when it comes to taking on a new charge. For one thing, if you have a small apartment, you probably don’t want to bring home a dog who needs a lot of space to run around. That doesn’t mean you need to get a small dog, though. Many larger breeds of canines are actually somewhat “lazy,” meaning they need only a bit of exercise a day, and will otherwise lounge. If you are concerned that your place is too small to house a dog, you can always just opt for a cat instead. Not only are cats content to curl up in small corners, they demand less of your time for walks and play.
  2. Research kid-friendly breeds. Not all dogs will enjoy (or even tolerate) the constant, sometimes overwhelming attention of your brood. Look into pets that are notoriously friendly. Golden retrievers, labs, and beagles are all as gentle as they are adorable. When it comes to cats, breed is less important than personality, so you’ll have to do some guesswork there based on first impressions.
  3. Keep your budget in mind. Depending on how much an animal eats, how much care he requires, and and what kind of accessories you need in order to take care of him, he could be out of your price range. Prepare a general budget for your potential pet and stick to it. Take into account adoption fees, vaccinations and routine vet costs, and everyday expenses like food and treats. This is a vital step. There’s nothing more crushing to a child than having a pet taken away, especially if it’s just due to a tight budget.
  4. Decide on an adult or baby. Yes, kittens and puppies are cute, but they’re also usually more work than their elders. Not only that, they’re only in their young stage for a short time, and before long, you’ll have a full-sized adult. Between housebreaking and vaccinations, you might be biting off more than you can chew with a young pet—especially if you already have young children. What’s more, older animals tend to be more mellow, and therefore may be happier to put up with having their tails pulled or ears tugged.
  5. Factor in chemistry. Just like when you meet a new person, when meeting a pet there’s a certain level of chemistry that determines how the relationship will go. Let your family meet and greet different dogs and cats to find one they really connect with. Even if an animal checks off every item on your list, if she doesn’t get along with the kids, the rest is moot.


Choosing the Right Pet for You [Best Friends Animal Society]
How to Choose a Pet That’s Right for Your Family [About Parenting]
Top 10 Family-Friendly Dogs [mom.me]