Pets can give a lot of pleasure. They make good companions for all ages and are an excellent way for children to learn about responsibility and caring for others. Being a deterrent to burglars and an intruder alarm, a family dog also helps to safeguard the home.
Keeping pets involves a lot of responsibility, however, and they can cause accidents and spread disease if not properly looked after. Make sure you know how to care for any animal you own and that whichever member of the family takes on the routine tasks will have enough time and commitment to do the job properly. Bear these points in mind when deciding what sort of pet to bring into the home.
Living with dogs
Dogs interact with humans so well that they soon become a member of the household, demanding their equal share of company and attention to keep them happy and well behaved. As dogs can live for ten to 15 years or even more, owning one is a long-term commitment. Feeds need to be regular, as does exercise. Grooming is necessary to keep the dog’s skin and coat in good condition, and to minimize the amount of hair shed in the house, and with long-haired varieties, this can overtime become more of a chore than a pleasure. Dogs bring dirt and dust into the house, so increasing the amount of housework around them.
Choose the breed carefully to suit your family situation; dogs are bred for certain characteristics and different types can require much more exercise and feeding than others. Most dogs do not like to be left alone for long periods, and some can become destructive in the home. Check on the dog’s likely temperament and if you are buying a puppy try to see both parents.
Training is another important aspect in a dog’s life. Dogs must always be kept under control and well behaved, especially in public. An uncontrollable dog is a potential danger in the home and on the street. If you have any difficulty with training your dog, seek out a training group, where your dog can learn to socialize with other canines and learn to respond to your commands.
Cats are much more independent than dogs, and require less care and attention. They groom themselves, unless they are long-haired, and often spend a lot of their time on their own. However, when they do want attention, or a nice warm lap to snuggle into, they can be very affectionate and rewarding as pets. They will even play with you, but on their terms and only when they feel like it.
It is wise to get a male cat neutered and a female cat spayed. Males grow into rangy beasts which take to fighting and spraying your property as they mark out their own territory. Females can, and most probably will, start to reproduce at six months of age and can produce two litters a year. Finding good homes for the kittens can become a regular headache. Talk to your local vet about the best time to spay and neuter your pet, if unsure.
Mice, hamsters, guinea pigs and rabbits all have their particular charms. They are generally relatively short-lived, although some rabbits do go on for many years. Although they are much cheaper to keep than either dogs or cats, they all need to be contained in cages, preferably with areas or runs large enough for them to exercise in. Hamsters particularly like toys and wheels to play with and guinea pigs and rabbits benefit from being allowed to run out of doors. Cages should be cleaned weekly.
Many children are wonderfully at ease with pets, but it is a good idea to show them how to hold and handle animals safely.