Adding a dog or cat to your family?

Deb D’Andrea

There are numerous reasons to add a dog or cat into your family pack, from companionship to protection to life circumstances. If you ask people how they chose their companion, you’ll receive answers as varied as the people themselves. Some know exactly the type of dog or cat they’re looking for. Others are found by their pet, walking into their lives unexpectedly.
If you live alone, the decision is much easier to make as the decision and responsibility rests upon you. With families, the decision should be a group discussion, talking through who is going to do what from feeding to training to exercising, and that a pet requires lots of love and attention. As many families have found out, in the beginning everyone is excited about their new addition, but as time passes, sometimes the new pet is left to its own devices and starts to get in trouble seeking attention, or the full responsibility ends up in the parents’ laps. From day one rules need to be established, and adhered to, to help ensure your pet will be a lifelong family companion.
If some family members want a pet and others do not, a discussion about responsibility can help resolve this, with the individuals who want the pet signing up for full responsibility. I’ve witnessed where this has happened, a new pet was brought into the family, and the individuals who didn’t want the pet end up wanting more.
When a household has other dogs and cats, you should look for traits that are similar or complementary to your pet’s personality when selecting your new pet. I rescued Bear and Baci, two 13-month Australian Shepherds who are very high energy and smart, and added them to my existing family pack of Tiki, a four-year old Blue Heeler and Husky mix and Talisker, a nine-year old Shetland Sheepdog. All four dogs are from herding breeds and after introducing them on neutral ground, have grown up together playing and loving one another.
If you start to experience undesired behavior, nip it in the bud before it can blossom into a bigger issue. There are several great resources for working with dogs and cats, and the more you add to your family pack, the more important it is to positively manage things like food or toy aggression. For most issues, there is a solution through positive training, consistency and having everyone in the family work with the pets in the same way so the pet understands what is being asked of them and is not confused due to multiple messages.
There are lots of pups and kitties looking for their forever homes. When looking to add a family member to your pack, be sure to check out your local Humane Society and rescues.
Until next time, Deb D’Andrea, founder of 4TheLuvOfDogz, provides mobile Canine Massage, PawQuatics, Canine Agility and Petz Nanny Services. Her home-made dog treats are sold at local stores, and 4TheLuvOfDogz K9Birthday Cakes are available direct. Deb Petz Nanny’s for dogs, cats, birds, fish, horses, etc. Contact Deb at 720-675-7078 or