Pet Selection Consultations
Pets are for life. Finding the best match for your home and family is not a science but there is a lot you can do to improve the chances of finding that perfect pet. While a large part of your pet's behavior will be shaped by your care and training (nuture), there is also a lot that might be genetically programmed or ingrained before you ever get your pet (nature).
The goal of a selection consultation is to help you choose a pet that is suited to your family, and to provide guidance to prepare you for your pet's arrival. If you are interested in a purebred, we ask that you first narrow your selection to a few breeds that appeal to you, since there are literally over 1000 dog breeds (recognized or unrecognized, depending on which registry you favor). Once you decide on these preferences, we can then discuss the pros and cons of each breed for your home.
To get some idea as to the size, shape, color, coat type, and other physical characteristics of each breed, you might want to begin by visiting a dog or cat show and interviewing some of the breeders. There are also numerous websites, some of which are listed below, that will help guide you through the selection process, even helping to prioritize breed traits. In addition, check with the kennel clubs, breed associations, breeder directories, and veterinary organizations in your country, state, or province.
On the internet, you can research the physical characteristics of the breed, but also the history of how, when and why the breed was originally developed. This can give you excellent insight into the behavioral traits of the breed. However, some information on the web can be weighted for or against the breed depending on the writer's background and perspective. Therefore, consider both the information and the source when evaluating the information and work with your veterinarian or a behaviorist to weigh the evidence when it seems conflicting. It is also important to consider health and behavior issues that are commonly seen in the breed when selecting the breed and lineage. See the references below and ask your veterinarian for information.
If you would rather adopt a dog or cat that is in need of a home, consider local humane societies, shelters, or rescue groups. Many of these organizations have excellent web resources both nationally and locally to help you find and select stray, abandoned, and relinquished pets. These organizations usually have a relatively large number of purebred dogs and cats available for adoption (e.g. www.petfinder.com, www.americanhumane.org, www.bestfriends.org, www.humanesociety.org).
Various factors should be considered in the adoption decision, including breed, age at adoption, the differences between males and females, as well as where to obtain the pet and what to look for when choosing the pet. Puppy and kitten assessment tests are not a very good way of predicting adult behavior, especially in puppies less than 4 months and kittens less than 3 months, although pets that already display overly fearful behavior at this age should be a cause for concern. As puppies and kittens mature, testing may become increasingly more accurate. Yet, many behavior problems, even those with a genetic component, may not begin to emerge until sexual maturity (6-9 months) or even behavioral maturity (1.5-3 years). Therefore, you might learn a lot more by assessing the behavior and the parents if they happen to be accessible.
Finally, there are many changes that can occur from the time you bring a new pet home as the pet develops and matures. Environment experience, socialization, and how you interact with and train your pet are critical influences that interact with the genetics of the pet. During the selection consultation you will get both medical and behavioral advice that will get you off to a good start, providing for the needs of your pet, teaching your pet what's desirable, and preventing behaviors that might be undesirable.
Below is a list of financial obligations that responsible pet ownership might entail:
A) Regular Expenses
Food, treats, toys, license, cleaning supplies, grooming supplies, grooming, day care, dog walker, Healthcare: regular veterinary examination - vaccines, fecal, laboratory screening tests, parasite protection, dentistry, insurance, geriatric care, laboratory tests
B) One-time or infrequent
Purchasing pet, bowls, leash, collar, identification (e.g. microchip, name tag), cage
Healthcare: spay/castrate, puppy/kitten class, adult obedience
C) Occasional recurrent expenses
Boarding, medical care for sickness, illness, emergency