Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Responsible Pet Owner

Pet ownership comes with major responsibilities in terms of both time and money. Here are some thins to be considered.

More Responsibility for Pet Owner

For instance, dogs are pack animals and crave attention from their human pack members. Certainly one of the easiest ways to upset a dog is to habitually ignore it. In fact, this lack of owner attention underlies many of the problem behaviors seen in dogs. Regardless of whether you keep your dog indoors or outdoors, consider how much quality time you will be able to spend with it each day. If your projections are low because of your job or other commitments, two dogs are often better than one. The company that one provides the other while you are away can be an effective substitute for your affections.

Another factor to consider with a dog is how much time you will have to devote to training. It cannot be stressed enough how important this is to your future relationship with your dog. One major cause of owner dissatisfaction is an unruly pet. As a result, training is definitely one aspect of pet ownership that should never be neglected. Reduced time requirement is a major reason for the increasing preference for cats over dogs as pets. Cats are indeed fairly self-sufficient, seemingly needing only food, water, a clean litterbox, and very little training. While this is true in many instances, you are still not off the hook! All cats still need a daily dose of attention and grooming. The financial aspects owning a dog or cat, including food, supplies, training, and veterinary care, can cost hundreds of dollars each year, and that’s assuming that it stays healthy. Are you willing to accept financial responsibility for your pet’s preventive health care or for treatment in an event of an injury or illness? If not, you are not ready for pet ownership.

On a final note, although your intentions might be pure, never surprise someone with a new dog or cat unless you are positively, absolutely sure that they want one in the first place. Think about it: Your gift to them includes not only that furry bundle of energy but also a hearty commitment to training, time, and money. Unfortunately, too many people do fail to think about it that way, and as a result, our nation’s pounds and shelters are overflowing with unwanted pets turned in by disgruntled or disinterested gift recipients. As a result, it is always best to allow other people to come to a decision about pet ownership by themselves, and not to force it on them by your good intentions.

Believe me, everyone will be happier in the long run!

Responsiblity of housing you new pet

Where are you planning to house your new pet? Hopefully, your answer is “indoors.” For some reason, many cat owners are under the false impression that a cat cannot be happy unless it is roaming free outdoors. Although this might have been the standard of thinking years back, it is
time that cat owners change their attitudes toward this subject. Aside from the obvious health hazards to outdoor cats, such as car fenders and fan belts, hostile dogs, hostile humans, and infectious diseases, there is another important reason: an increased threat of zoonotic disease transmission. As a result, although it is fine to allow your cat to spend some time outside, it should spend the majority of the day (and all of the night) inside.

Dogs raised as housepets will respond more favorably to training and generally have less behavioral problems than those that are perpetually banished to the backyard from day 1. This is because dogs crave the attention and company of people, and, in most instances, a backyard existence does not fulfill this need. Problem behaviors and disobedience frequently result from such discontent.

In decisions regarding the housing of dogs, excitability, size, and coat length are certainly three important considerations. As a rule, the more excitable the dog, the more attention that dog will crave. Isolate an excitable dog in a backyard away from human contact, and you are just begging for behavioral problems. At the same time, selecting a large dog for a housepet and failing to housetrain or command-train it properly could lead to some very disturbing and destructive confrontations.

If you are not willing to devote the time to properly train an indoor dog, you should stick to one of the smaller breeds in order to limit the damage that is bound to befall your carpet and furniture! Depending on the type of climate in which you live, haircoat length becomes an important factor to consider when deciding on indoors versus outdoor housing. In colder climates, dogs with long coats and dense undercoats can withstand the outdoor chill much better than can their shorthaired counterparts. Conversely, dogs such as the Siberian husky and the chow chow may have a difficult time coping with southern heat without the benefits of air conditioning.

Outdoor dogs with long haircoats will also require more grooming time and effort to keep their coats healthy than if they were housed indoors. Are you willing to devote this time each day? If not, either select a dog with a shorter coat, or plan on housing your dog indoors.

If you plan on housing a dog outside when it becomes an adult, be sure that it is housetrained as a puppy. That way, if the need ever arises to bring the dog indoors, it will be easier (and certainly more sanitary) to accomplish such a conversion.

New Pets and Other Pets

Before bringing home a new dog or cat, consider your other pets that are already in your household. Jealousies or incompatibilities (e.g., cats and birds) could arise that need to be anticipated ahead of time.

Be sure the new addition has been properly socialized to other pets, and vice versa! For example, if your existing dog is the type that attacks anything that barks or moves on four legs, it might do the same to your new arrival. Unsocialized dogs and cats (and even some that are properly socialized) might refuse to accept another of their kind
into their territory without a fight.

All newcomers should be gradually introduced to existing pets one day at a time. Keep your new pet in a separate room or enclosure, allowing initial interactions to take place only under your direct supervision. These gradual encounters should eventually help break the ice between the two and help establish a social pecking order
within your furry family.

Pets teach children to be responsible

Dogs and cats can serve as great teachers to educate children about responsibility and unconditional love! However, wait until your children are at least 5 years old before acquiring a new pet. Younger children, some of who might just be starting to crawl or walk, stand a greater chance of being accidentally hurt or scratched by a housepet than do older children. On the contrary, older children are better equipped to learn about and/or undertake responsibilities associated with pet ownership, and can become active participants in the care of the new family member.

When selecting a pet for a child, choose one with an outgoing personality, one that can stand up to the rigors of ownership by a child . Shy, introverted puppies and kittens rarely satisfy the energy requirements of children. Such pets might be difficult to socialize and could turn aggressive if mentally traumatized by an overzealous child.

With dogs, medium to medium-large breeds are preferred for children. Small dogs and toy breeds, because of their small stature, are more susceptible to accidental injury at the hands and feet of young ones. They are also more likely to become aggressive if mishandled. On the other hand, while one of the giant breeds can be gentle as a lamb, such a pet could still pose a significant health threat to your child because of its sheer mass.

Personality features to look for in dogs include low aggressiveness, high tolerance, and low excitability. Golden retrievers are a favorite among parents, owing to their reputation for gentleness with children. Basset hounds, Labrador retrievers, and collies are also popular picks for children. Finally, when purchasing a puppy or kitten, limit your selection to one that is between 8 and 12 weeks old. Because socialization naturally occurs during this time, a greater bond will form between it
and your child.