Adopting Choices, Older Pet or Youngster?

Patapsco Valley View

Volume 11

January 2013

Young Pup or Old Soul:

Should You Adopt a Pup/Kitten

or a Dog/Cat

So, you’ve made up your mind. bree baby_1.JPG

 It’s time to get a new love interest in your life, but you can’t decide. Should you get a new ‘baby’ or an adult pet to share your home?

The first thing to decide is how much time you have to invest in training your new addition. Puppies and kittens are adorable, no doubt about it, but they don’t come trained. Kittens will normally use the litter box from the start, but puppies need constant attention to teach them the rules about either using the great outdoors, or training to the newfangled puppy pads. (These can be useful if you live in a walk up apartment or have a strange work schedule.)

Puppies need structure. Kittens prefer options. You need to understand that it may take a few weeks for your pet to get acclimated to your home and family. Some more reserved pets may be shy and take some time to come around, while other more boisterous ones will be all over you from the very beginning. This is cute as a two pound puppy, but not quite as cute when your 80 pound lab knocks over Grandma when she visits. The first rule is to be CONSISTENT! Decide before you ever get your pet just what is and isn’t allowed. Then stick with the program! BE FIRM YET KIND! Hitting a pet gets nothing accomplished. Startling them with a sharp noise in the middle of bad behavior may help, but punishing after the act is a waste of time. Anticipate what CAN happen and plan ahead. Kittens and puppies can add years to your life, or make it seem longer, depending on the pet and the ‘parent’. If you have time and energy there’s nothing like a ‘baby’ to bring joy into your life. But be prepared, animals are like young children-completely dependant and often very demanding.

Older pets aren’t without issues either, but in some cases, adopting from ‘the Pound’ can be a life saver in more ways than one. Older pets may have been given up for a variety of reasons, some of which can include biting, jumping fences, destroying furniture, peeing or pooping in the house. But most older pets have been given up because people didn’t anticipate the needs associated with having a pet. A lot of bad behavior is just related to anxiety due to a lack of attention or exercise. Specific breeds have specific needs and ALL animals need frequent attention and exercise, especially energetic dogs like labs and golden retrievers.

If you work more than 8 hours daily, travel a lot, have a busy social life, or don’t feel like taking a brisk refreshing walk outdoors two to three times daily, you shouldn’t consider getting a dog as a companion, especially a young one. (Birds also would be a bad fit, since they are social animals with high attention needs).

A cat, guinea pig, or small pocket pet may be more suitable if your life is hectic, since they are more socially independent by nature. You can easily exercise your feline friend with a laser pointer, turkey feather, paper ball, etc, while relaxing on the couch. Such pets may be content just to snuggle on your lap while you watch TV.

Older pets, especially cats, may take a while to adjust to the new rules and environment, so give them a quiet place to rest that belongs to them alone. Introduce them to the house and other people and animals slowly and calmly. Never let your new friend have run of the house immediately. Realize that there may be ‘accidents’. Oldsters need time to learn and remember the rules too.

So, whichever way you choose, open up you heart and let the love shine through. Our furry friends need love too.