PTN is proud to be an educational programming partner of Wallis Annenberg PetSpace, an interactive community space for people and pets! Developed by PTN and PetSpace, here are some tips and tricks to help your family find the right pet. 

What do you know about dogs?

  • There are more than than 150 dog breeds divided into 8 classes: sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, non-sporting, herding, and miscellaneous. 
  • Dogs can vary in size from a 36 inch, 150+ lb. Great Dane to a 2 lb. Chihuahua
  • The average dog lives 10-14 years 
    Smaller dogs tend to live longer than larger dogs
    Dogs who are spayed/neutered tend to live longer
  • Puppies and kittens can be adopted as early as 8 weeks of age. Until then, they should stay with their moms and littermates
  • Dogs reach full size between 12 and 24 months of age
  • About 1/3 of the dogs that are surrendered to animal shelters are purebred dogs
  • Bichons, Portuguese Water Dogs, Kerry Blue Terriers, Maltese and Poodles shed less than other dogs (may be good choices for families with allergies)
  • Obesity is one of the top health problems for dogs

What do you know about cats?

  • While not everyone can agree, there are from 43-73 different types of cat breeds
  • Average age for domesticated cats is 12 years
    * Varies based on actual breed, diet, lifestyle and access to routine medical care
    * Indoor/Outdoor cats generally live shorter live spans (as small as 3-5 years) due to injuries and outdoor hazards
  • Healthy adult cats are in deep sleep 15 percent of their lives. They are in light sleep 50 percent of the time. That leaves just 35 percent awake time, or roughly 6-8 hours a day
  • A female kitten can become pregnant as young as 4 months of age, a reason early spaying and neutering is so important!
  • Many plants we come into contact with on a daily basis are toxic dangerous for cats (especially different types of lilies). Click here to view a full list.

What do you know about rabbits?

  • A rabbit’s life span is about 8 years
    * Sterilized rabbits (those who are spayed/neutered) can live as long as 10-12 years
    * Unspayed female rabbits have an 80% chance of developing uterine cancer
  • The average size of a rabbit litter is usually between 4 and 12 babies, which results after a short 30-day gestation 
    * Male rabbits can reproduce as early as 7 months of age
    * Females as early as 4 months
    * This means in one year a single female rabbit can produce as many as 800 children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren
  • A baby rabbit is called a kit, a female is called a doe, and a male is a buck. A group of rabbits is called a herd.
  • Rabbits are herbivores, eating a diet entirely of grasses and other plants. Because their diet contains so much cellulose, they pass two different kinds of feces to completely break down their food. While other grazers will chew and swallow their feed, then burp it back up (as cows chew cud), rabbits will re-ingest their feces on the first pass to get all of the nutrients they need.
  • Happy rabbits practice a cute behavior known as a binky. They jump up in the air and twist and spin around.
  • A rabbit’s teeth never stop growing. Many people believe they need to chew to keep their teeth short. While they do enjoy chewing, it’s the normal wear from where their top and bottom teeth meet that keeps a rabbit’s teeth short.
  • Rabbits cannot vomit, so it is super important to feed them only healthy, fresh, appropriate food
  • The minimum recommended cage space for a single rabbit is 2′ x 2′ x 4′. Cages with a solid floor are recommended as wire bottomed cages can ulcerate a rabbit’s foot.
  • Rabbits need several hours of out of cage exercise time a day
    * Indoor proof your house by covering wires or other chewable objects
    * Outdoor runs should be fully enclosed (closed top to protect from potential predators, deep fences as rabbits can dig under shallow areas)
  • Rabbits are very social animals and without a companion can become depressed

Questions to ask when thinking about pet adoption:

Do you rent or own?

Rent: Does the landlord allow pets? Different places may allow different types or sizes of animals.
Own: Are all animals allowed under your home owners insurance? Each insurance provider has its own policies regarding which animals are or are not covered. Separate insurance policies are available to cover animals excluded
from certain policies.

How big is your home?

While having a small home shouldn’t deter you from adopting, it may impact the size or type of animal that will fit comfortably with you and your family.
Having and allowing dogs access to a backyard does not ensure that they are getting enough exercise
* While dogs may be initially active once moving outdoors, (given their pack nature, dogs will typically run the perimeter of their space looking for signs of intruders), they, like most human, need a reason to exercise or be active.
* Solitary dogs rest 80% of their alone time; Multiple dogs rest 60% of their alone time
* Research shows that dogs need to move at a pace of 4-4.7 miles/hour (14-15 minute miles) to achieve meaningful cardiovascular benefits

How loud are your surroundings?

Frequent outside noise may startle an animal. 

Is your family active?

Taking your dog out for walks, hiking or on camping trips would be beneficial while going out for dinner every day and not including your dog would not be beneficial.

Do you have time to devote to training / exercising your new pet?

While exercise recommendations may change based on age, breed, size and general health:
* Dogs should receive on average 30 minutes – two hours of activity per day
* Cats should be engaged in activity for at least 10-15 minutes several times a day
* Rabbits need a minimum of three hours of run time per day (and are most active in the morning and evening)

What’s your lifestyle?

Take your daily work and school schedules into consideration; therapy or appointments; team practices or social clubs.

What to do when bringing your animal home for the first time:

The First Day

Go home. You should take your new pet straight home (plan ahead and make sure supplies were purchased ahead of time). The sooner you get home the faster your new pet will be able to settle into their new life.
Leash up. It is critical that new adopters keep their dogs on a leash at all times during transport. If possible, bring a second person to maintain a firm hold of the leash, especially if the pet will not be crated during the ride.
Enjoy the outdoors. You should remain outside once you arrive home until the new pet urinates, and hopefully defecates. The pet will begin to learn
immediately the expectations for relieving itself.
Control the environment. It’s advisable to keep your new pet on a leash while introducing it to the new house. Once you both feel comfortable, you can remove the leash.
Introduce slowly. If possible, introduce your pet to each family member separately. That way they will have the opportunity to get to know the sight and smell of each individual without being overwhelmed.

The First Two Weeks

During the first two weeks, your pet may be unable to be relaxed or act in a natural way due to their very new surroundings. Pets may be confused as
they struggle to become familiar with their new owners and home. Cats tend to hide or isolate themselves. Dogs grasp at routines in order to gain a sense of structure and to predict what happens and when.
What to do:
* Introduce and maintain schedules for feeding, walking and play.
* Revisit crate training, even if the dog is housebroken. Reward outdoor elimination with praise, a game or a treat.
* Confine the dog to one room in the house, such as a kitchen. Initiate supervised introduction of one additional room every other day.
* Introduce cat-play using lure toys. Avoid using a laser pointer, which generates frustration.
* Provide the cat with its own space for feeding, as well as access to two litter boxes.
* Refrain from taking a dog to pet supply stores or on lengthy trips.

The First Month

Owners may discover that, after walks, the dog will eliminate in the home. Most animals feel comforted when the area smells like them. It’s not uncommon for dogs to mark in various interior areas. Cats begin to engage in increased exploratory behavior, usually when the family is sleeping.
What to do:
* Take the dog for walks close to home. Upon returning home, spend five to 10 additional minutes in the front or backyard, where the dog is likely to eliminate again. If it doesn’t eliminate, return to the crate for 10 minutes before taking the dog out again. Repeat until pet eliminates outdoors. Follow up with a treat or a game.
* Invite friends to the home so the dog can be greeted and given treats by friendly strangers.
* Do not force any pet to be held or petted by people from whom they are not actively soliciting attention.

Months Two & Three

Dogs begin to feel more confident and express themselves more freely, so there may be increased barking or growling. Both are forms of communication to express likes or fears. (Similarly, cats may begin to scratch furniture and solicit more attention.)
What to do:
* Take note of what the dog is barking at and when it occurs. The dog may require social support, such as company, when, for instance, it is out at night in the yard.
* Assure dogs that situations are safe by offering a gentle touch or treat, and then lure the dog away from the area, or prevent access to areas where barking occurs most frequently.

Months Four

At this time, dogs and cats become more comfortable in their new environment. Owners may begin to see a decrease in behavior issues.
What to do:
* Refrain from punishing or physically correcting any pet during the first four months.
* If owners are experiencing issues that are particularly challenging, they should contact their vet or a positive-based professional trainer or behavior consultant for guidance.