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Advice for Potential Pet Owners

By Robin Tierney

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Some people's new year resolutions include adding a dog or cat to their family. Less than 35% of family dogs live out their lives with their original owners, according to Peter J. Vollmer, author of "SuperPuppy: How to Raise the Best Dog You'll Ever Have."

How can you help prospective pet owners make appropriate decisions to increase the chance of success? Gina Spadafori in "Dogs for Dummies" stresses that the most important factors to success are how well the people educate themselves before getting a dog and how well they educate the dog afterwards.

According to the ASPCA, people bringing a companion animal into their lives need to thoroughly review their lifestyle and their readiness to take responsibility for the animal's care. The ASPCA advises people to consider the following five questions before they adopt a dog:

1. "Am I ready to make a long-term commitment?" Adopting a pet means being responsible for the animal's health and happiness for the rest of his or her life, which could be up to 15 years for dogs.

2. "Is the animal right for my household?" A strong, active pet may be too much for a young child, elderly person or busy family to handle. Small pets may be too delicate for rough play typically associated with children. Furthermore, always make sure that everyone in the household agrees to and is ready to have an animal in the home (and can ensure the safety of the pet).

3. "Who will be the primary caretaker for the animal?" One adult in the home should be designated as the primary caretaker so that the pet's needs do not become lost in the shuffle of busy schedules.

4. "Can I afford the animal?" The cost of a pet is more than just the purchase price or adoption fee. Remember to include the cost of food, pet supplies, veterinarian bills and training and petsitting/dogwalking - plus boarding when the family travels and cannot take the pet along.

5. "Am I ready to commit to making this dog a good canine citizen?" A well-trained dog is a pleasure and is welcome in public and as a visitor. Research shows that people who take the time to train their dogs are more likely to keep them longer than people who don't.

PAW offers several resources on its website at www.paw-resource.org for people who are thinking about getting a pet. The website also includes information about PAW's new Pets 101 pre-adoption workshops for prospective and new pet owners.

Remind those you meet who are seeking a pet that this is a daily and lifetime commitment, so it's essential to be completely ready before adding a companion animal to their household.

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For more of Robin's Dog Tips, see the index at:  www.paw-rescue.org/PAW/dog_tips.php

Partnership for Animal Welfare
P.O. Box 1074, Greenbelt, MD 20768

FOR NONPROFIT USE ONLY. These articles may NOT be reproduced or circulated without author permission.


Last Updated: July 26, 2014 (LET) PawSupport