So, you’re looking to welcome home a new furry friend. Congratulations! That’s very exciting.
To kick-start your search for a new fur baby, we’ve put together our top tips to keep in mind, from preliminary research to understanding your breeder or rescue agency’s contracts. It’s important to find the fur baby that best fits your family’s needs and lifestyle.
There are so many kinds of pets. From cats to dogs, to bunnies and hamsters, you may be in the midst of trying to decide what’s right for your family. For the purposes of this post, we’ll focus our energy on cats and dogs.
If you’re torn between the species, we encourage you to take a third-person perspective and think about an average week of your life. How often, really, are you in the mood to go outside for a walk and play? Even during the coldest Wisconsin winters or hottest Arizona summers? What are your typical hours at home? This may push you in one direction or another. Dogs require time outside all year round, long walks and playtime. Cats are generally happy doing their own thing indoors. If you’re not home enough to stick to your dog’s outdoor bathroom schedule, a cat may be the right choice for you.
There are many helpful quizzes to help you narrow down the type of pet that best matches your interests. From Pedigree’s doggy breed matching quiz, where questions range from home size to your activity level, to Animal Planet’s cat breed selector which focuses on your ideal cat’s behavior.
While an individual cat or dog may stray from their breed’s most common traits, they’re generally a good indicator of the type of pet you’re looking for. Not to mention, they may help you rule out breeds that aren’t the best fit, such as looking for a Great Dane if you live in a studio apartment.
Don’t forget to consider your financial situation when finding the best furry friend for your family. There are helpful resources to calculate yearly pet costs that can support your research. Perhaps two dogs with similar traits, but very different hereditary conditions or eating habits, may be ranked differently in your breed list to minimize expected pet costs.
Once you have a list of traits you’re looking for, and breeds that may best encapsulate those traits, we recommend researching options in your area and asking questions. If you want a purebred dog or cat, a breeder will likely be your best bet. Do your research and understand where breeders may be in your area, the temperaments of the parents, and when the next litter may be expected. From there, you can narrow down the best fit for you.
If a rescue pup or cat is more your speed, we suggest researching rescues in your area. If breed mix is important to you, you’ll want to go to a rescue with a vet on site to help identify a breed mix. Plus, try to find a rescue that shares information with you on your pet’s background. A key question to ask here would be for the pet’s medical history. While a rescue may not know a pet’s history pre-shelter, they may have made inferences based on the condition the pet was in upon arrival. Understanding a pet’s medical history is a critical component when deciding on your role as potential caregiver.
Another important question to ask when adopting a dog or cat is if they’ve been behavior tested. Reviewing the traits of a breed is an excellent starting point, but the behavior test will help see if your potential pet fits the traits you were expecting. For example, a pup may have a temperament that’s far more energetic than you’re able to support if you can’t take him or her on daily walks. The two most common, and vetted, behavior tests are SAFER and Assess-a-Pet. While neither test is a perfect science, these will be helpful indicators on whether or not you should take the next step and meet the pet.
Meet the Pet!
Whether you’re welcoming home a new furry friend from a breeder or a shelter, it’s important to meet your potential pet first. This is especially key when adopting a pet. We know it can be exciting with many interested pet parents waiting next in line, but it’s important you and your could-be furry friend are able to bond. If they’re scared of someone of your gender or size due to past trauma, now is the time to find out! Once you take your pet home, they’re with you forever, so it’s helpful to bring a toy or two and see how they interact with you on their turf. If you have kids, bring them along too. It’s important to ensure the pet is open to little hands and has the patience to deal with rougher, while well-meaning, play.
Before you get swept into the excitement of meeting your potential fur baby, ask for the breeder or rescue agency to send over any contracts you’ll need to sign in advance. You’ll want to take the time to read everything carefully prior to directing your attention to your new furry friend! Ensure you also get a copy of their medical records. This will be a great starting point for future vet visits.