How to Find the Right Pet for Your Family

Think about your family style

  • Running, outdoors vs. Hang out on the couch
  • Species that fits best for your family (dog, cat, fish, pocket pet)

Amount of time you have for a family pet

  • Dogs or puppies that are left for 8 hrs or more per day 5 days a week or more may be more likely to have separation anxiety without appropriate exercise and training.
  • Cats need socialization as well as twice daily feeding, daily litter box cleaning, play time.

Learn about breed temperament with the understanding that each animals is different and has varied temperaments (and learned behaviors if rescuing/adopting).

  • Working type dog require a job and extensive exercise.
  • Herding breeds like to herd chairs, children, etc. and can be anxious or destructive when they don’t have an outlet for their energy.

First visit shelters, reach out to local rescues, and search on

  • Some shelters and rescues can help you find the right fit for your family when you provide them with information on what your family style and time are.

Speak with your veterinarian to learn about common disorders associated with specific breeds or breed combinations. Mixed breed dogs are less likely to have medical issues as long as they are not two breeds with the same issues (ex. Pug and Beagle – cherry eye).

Have realistic expectations for your pet and yourself.

  • Understand that pets aren’t like appliances that come with a user manual. Additional training through consistent positive reinforcement, and daily exercise (sometimes extensive) is needed to integrate your pet into your family life.

If you do plan to purchase a dog avoid pet stores where animals can be from a puppy mill, backyard or inexperienced breeder.

How do I find a responsible breeder?

  • Contact the local breed association to get recommendations.
  • Responsible breeders:
  1. Only breed one breed of animal and only breed a few litters per year.
  2. The breeder wants to get information about the family that the puppy is going to and is not a cash-for-puppy transaction. Breeders will interview prospective family prior to breeding animals as to have families lined up ahead of time.
  3. Actual records from a veterinary hospital for the dogs to have their first set of vaccines none-of which are prior to 7 weeks of age.
  4. Able to visit and see the location where the dogs were and the dam and sire were raised. See the dam and sire and they are on location.
  5. Evaluate their pets for health disorders and eliminate those animals that are affected from the breeding stock. Prospective owners should be able to see paperwork on OFA, physical exams, screening for disorders common in that breed (ex. OFA or PennHIP evaluations in large breed dogs, cardiology evaluations in Newfoundland, eye exams in collies, etc.) Please speak to your veterinarian prior to purchasing or adopting a dog to see what health disorders are common to those breeds.

The yearly care for a dog can run from $500 – $1500 to have realistic expectations for the financial investment in owning a pet. Dogs and cats can live an average of 12-18 years and are a long term commitment.

Although a significant time commitment, researching the right pet for your family can positively affect a wonderful human animal bond and create and long loving relationship.

Dr. Laura Tancredi, DVM