What Pet Is Right for Me?
When you reach a point in your life where you're ready to adopt a pet, the first big decision is the type of pet you want to bring into your home. From large-breed dogs to a cage-bound hamster, the spectrum of pets is large—and certain pets will fit your lifestyle better than others.
Whether you're looking for good pets for working adults, easy pets to take care of in college, or pets that meet other specific challenges or conditions of your daily life, this quick guide will help you assess different pet options to identify the best type of pet for you.
How Do I Decide What Pet is Right for Me?
Determining the right fit with a pet requires you to look at your current lifestyle and determine how a pet might fit into your day-to-day life. Here are a few questions to ask of yourself:
- What pet fits my lifestyle? Are you gone from home all day long? Do you like to go out in the evenings, and find yourself spending little time at home? If so, you might be better suited to adopt a low-maintenance pet, such as a reptile or fish, that doesn't require regular interaction or play. If you work from home or spend a lot of time at home, you might be better equipped to take on the additional work that comes with dogs or other high-maintenance pets.
- How much effort am I willing to put into training my pet? If you want your dog to obey commands, play well with other dogs and accompany you to the farmer's market and restaurant patios, you'll need to invest in training courses for you and your dog. This can be costly and time-consuming and will require a commitment from pet owners if you want this training to be successful.
- How long do I want to commit to caring for a pet? The life expectancies of pets can vary widely, and this may be something you want to consider. While a pet mouse might only live for a few years, certain breeds of dogs and cats can live for 15 to 20 years. That's a long commitment if you're starting with them as kittens or puppies. Adopting an older pet can be a great way to shower them with affection and care without committing to a long relationship.
- Can I afford the future costs of caring for my pet? Healthcare, food, and other costs need to be planned for with your pet. You should be prepared to take care of injuries and unexpected medical costs that may crop up, especially later in life. In general, the larger the pet, the more significant the medical costs.
What's the Best Pet for a Busy Person?
Some pets are better suited to a busy owner than others. While dogs require regular exercise and visits outside during the day, cats can be left alone for long periods of time as long as they have access to food and water.
Low-maintenance pets like fish, mice, turtles, and lizards may be happy in a home where the owner is regularly busy, as long as their needs are met.
If you're committed to the idea of adopting a dog, there are still ways to make your busy schedule work for your pet. If you have roommates or family members who also live in the home, they can help you split certain care responsibilities, including walking. You can also hire a dog-walker to give your dog regular exercise during the day. You might also consider sending your dog to a doggy daycare where they can enjoy exercise and socialization while you're at work.
Best First Pet Ideas for a Child
As a parent, you may be interested in sorting through the different types of pets to have as a household with children. This may depend on the age of the kids, as well as who in the house will be responsible for the pet. While a family pet like a dog may be a great addition, it should be a breed known to live well with children, and parents may need to accept most of the work.
Lower maintenance pets could be a great opportunity to teach children about responsibility without overworking them. Turtles, lizards, and hamsters are a few low-maintenance pets that might be a good first pet for a child.
The role children will play in caring for pets is perhaps the biggest question to answer when choosing the animal. For example, do rabbits make good house pets? In general, the answer is yes—but only when they're properly cared for. While it's easy to keep rabbits in a cage all day long, this isn't good for their mental health. Rabbits require a lot of social interaction with either other rabbits or their owners, which means owners should plan on providing daily interaction, as well as regular exercise time out of their cage.
Prospective pet owners should be careful to balance their desire for a pet with the practical considerations that will affect their ability to properly care for their pet. If you've evaluated your situation and concluded now isn't the right time in your life to adopt your desired pet, consider holding off on a pet adoption until you're in the right place to serve as the kind of pet owner you've always wanted to be.