The pet industry is a behemoth with no signs of slowing down.\r\n\r\nThe usual staple of pets include cats, dogs, fish and hamsters, among many others. For those who like to walk on the wild side, exotic pets include snakes, lizards, salamanders and spiders. However, before owning or possessing an exotic pet, you must secure a CITES license and purchase your pet from a recognised licensed distributor.\r\n\r\nThe Benefits of Having, Managing and Shedding Your Fear of Them\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nPets, whatever shape or form they take, are indispensable for the ones who love them. More often than not, they are part of the family. Some may have just one critter, others may have more than one of the same species. Still others, have opened their hearts and homes to a variety of pets, the more the merrier.\r\n\r\nAlthough pets cover a wide range of animals, from fish to tortoises and snakes to spiders, for the purposes of this article we will concentrate on two of the most popular ones, namely cats and dogs.\r\nLaws Of Natural Attraction\r\n\r\n\r\nThere is something about dogs and cats which draws us to them, naturally.\r\n\r\nWhether it is their soft, brown adoring eyes, silky coat of fur, the way they follow us around or how they sense our moods, they possess the remarkable gift of attraction.\r\n\r\nA world without pets would be a lesser place.\r\nJust What The Doctor Ordered\r\nScientific research has proven beyond doubt that pets bring many benefits.\r\n\r\nThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)\u00a0 has found that having pets helps us all around, both mentally and physically.\r\nThey Lift Our Spirits\r\nAnimals have been found to help the lonely or depressed ease their isolation and sadness.\r\n\r\nWhen depressed, people can feel withdrawn, closed in and isolated. Pets with their subtle companionship and funny antics can lighten moods and spark joy while providing quiet, constant and calm companionship.\r\n\r\nFurthermore, having a pet brings responsibilities. Those responsibilities help them become outward looking since they have a pet to care for. While it does not present a quick fix solution, it does ease things a little for them.\r\n\r\n\r\nSociable Me\r\nPets enable us to socialise a little easier especially when we go to doggy day school or walks around our Taman. People are always drawn to dogs on leash, especially children.\r\n\r\nAs for cats, their daily jaunts can get neighbours talking to each other, especially when cats pass through their houses. Cats, as you know, cannot be corralled and made to stay put in one place like dogs.\r\n\r\nFor those who are shy or withdrawn, this could be the very thing to help them meet and make friends.\r\nFor When I Am Anxious\r\nAnxiety can occur in people of all ages, children are not exempt. In fact, some people are more predisposed to anxiety than others.\r\n\r\nFor instance, placement in a new school, the start of a new job, moving home or state, among other things, are just some examples which can trigger anxiety.\r\n\r\nPets have been found to be therapeutic in easing anxiety as this article from the Anxiety And Depression Association of America (ADAA) confirms.\r\nMovin' On Up\r\n\r\n\r\nThe responsibility which comes with pets cannot be taken lightly.\r\n\r\nPets totally rely on us for care and company. Looking after them requires deep commitment. Picking up after them, taking them for walks or runs, making sure they are well\u00a0 groomed and vaccinated takes lifelong love, commitment and perseverance.\r\n\r\nThis also translates into a lot of running around for them or after them which is a good way to keep fit. Some dogs, like the Shiba Inu (see inset)need a lot of daily exercise or they can turn destructive. Keeping up with Shiba or similar type dogs will certainly keep you fit.\r\n\r\nCats are very particular about cleanliness and they shed a lot. Keeping the house clean and tidy can be a big job for those who have those furry friends. If you have more than one, then you are in for double duty.\r\nHousekeeping Rules\r\nAs with everything in life, pets have their dos and don'ts. Keeping these rules will make it safer all around.\r\nFearing Our Furries\r\n\r\n\r\nSome people are really averse to animals and are, in fact, repelled by them. Children too can fear animals.\r\n\r\nThis could due to childhood trauma or a lack of exposure and interaction with animals.\r\n\r\nIf you fear animals and have to live in a house which has a pet or a number of them, this may pose a challenge.\r\n\r\nGiving up the pet should never an option, unless all other avenues have been thoroughly exhausted. For one, it is a very cruel thing to do.\u00a0 Also pets find it very hard to adjust to a new environment and a new owner, especially cats. Some may start exhibiting behaviour issues which could spell disaster for both owner and pet.\r\n\r\nIn a previous article we explored some ideas on how to combat our fear of insects. Some of those points may prove helpful in this situation too. Same rules apply, just different species.\r\nPets Are Animals\r\n\r\n\r\nWith the burgeoning growth of the pet industry, accessories and knick knacks for pets are in such abundance we are spoilt for choice. Our pets have never had it so good.\r\n\r\nThe things that we get for them, the love we lavish on them can cause some of us to humanise them.\r\n\r\nPets, not matter how cute, cuddly and understanding of us are still animals. To treat them like humans can, in the long run, spell disaster all around.\r\nAnimals Live Within Natural Laws\r\nAnimals, whether they are cats, dogs, hamsters, or any other, live within the boundaries of their own natural laws. As responsible owners, we need to learn those laws and work within their boundaries.\r\n\r\nAnimals cannot change to suit us, rather we have to conform to them.\r\n\r\nRespecting those laws can go a long way to a safer home for both you, your little ones and the pets at home.\r\nKnowledge Is Power\r\n\r\n\r\nDogs have their own psychology which is vastly different from cats. Within their particular genus, they have their own personality types. In a household of 4 dogs, each will have its own personality, strengths and weaknesses.\r\n\r\nIn addition to personality types, each breed has its own specific characteristics.\r\n\r\nFor example, German Shepherds, Doberman Pinchers and Rottweilers are well known as one-master dogs. In addition to that, they are also known as protection dogs.. For one-master dogs, they need to have one person as a point of authority. This could be anyone who is able to control the animal and spends the most time with it.\r\n\r\nGolden retrievers, Labradors and Collies are considered family dogs and are more popular in families with children. They are very adaptable to one and all at home.\r\n\r\nThe same goes for cats.\r\n\r\nYou can have cats who are neurotic, dominating, impulsive, agreeable or extroverted. Cats also are susceptible to stress and anxiety as this article from Psychology Today notes. Like dogs, they can be friendly, aloof, protective, calm and hyperactive. Knowing the temperament of your cat is important so as to better handle them.\r\nSize Does Not Matter\r\n\r\n\r\nThe Chihuahua (see inset), one of the smallest dogs dogs in the world, is the most aggressive of all. This aggression can be directed to both humans and other pets, both within and outside the home. With their small mouths, their bites would not be as deadly as that of a Pitbull, nevertheless, they can be terrors to one and all.\r\n\r\nSometimes in choosing pets, people get small dogs with the idea that a small dog is more manageable and friendly, only to discover its total opposite.\r\n\r\nSize does not matter when it comes to dogs.\r\n\r\nCats, on the other hand, are the total opposite.\r\n\r\nMost times, they leave each other alone. When they fight, they are more or less evenly matched. In an unmatched fight, the smaller one would probably scramble off rather than chance the fight.\r\nDogs Live In Packs\r\nGenerally, dogs live in packs, even if they are the only dog in the house.\r\n\r\nWhere they have no pack, by default, the family becomes their pack. For one master dogs like German Shepherds, the Alpha or head of the pack becomes the one they obey. It may not necessarily be Dad. It could be Mom, or anyone else in the family that takes care of the animal and can control it.\r\n\r\nCats are the total opposite.\r\n\r\nThey are more akin to tigers and leopards, who can live in isolation quite comfortably. Even when they live together, they carve out niches for themselves at home. They do mix and mingle and even play with each other, but they prefer their solitude by far.\r\nLeader Of The Pack\r\n\r\n\r\nIf you are thinking of getting a dog, or need to brush up your knowledge on them, look no further than to Cesar Milan. He has helped scores of people understand and train their dogs successfully.\r\n\r\nDogs always need a pack leader for balance and structure. Dogs without a leader can run wild, becoming both destructive and uncontrollable.\r\n\r\nDiscipline, order and affection - in that order, are requisites for dogs. Many people shower a lot of affection on their dogs but miss out on the discipline and order they need.\r\n\r\nFor cats it is important to respect their temperament for peaceful living. Cats do very much value their individuality and to get along we have to respect them for it.\r\nYes, They Are Territorial\r\n\r\n\r\nAll animals are territorial.\r\n\r\nKnowing this and teaching these life skills to your kids will prevent any untoward accidents in or outside the house.\r\n\r\nIt also is a good idea to pay attention to the body language of your pets. Many pets give warnings if they do not like something. It is up to us to read those signs. Dogs on edge can growl a warning, for cats, perhaps an angry hiss.\r\n\r\nChildren should always be supervised with around pets to be safe.\r\n\r\nChildren may not be able to pick up the telltale signs of annoyance in pets like we do. Sometimes in their excitement, they can inadvertently hurt pets by squeezing them too tightly or grabbing their tails. Surprised or hurt animals can react with an angry scratch or a small nip.\r\n\r\nAlso always teach them not to approach animals during feeding time or chance taking their pet's favourite toy. Teach them that as they do not like their toys taken, the same applies for the animals. For animals, territory can also apply to their bedding, toys and feeding bowls, in addition to the parameters of the house.\r\nHeading Outdoors\r\n\r\n\r\nHaving pets at home keeps you one step ahead when meeting other dogs or cats outdoors, since you would be familiar with their psychology and make up.\r\n\r\nHowever, there are some rules on animal interaction when outdoors which could be useful to know.\r\nKeep Wild Animals Wild\r\n\r\n\r\nIf you meet any wild animal outdoors, e.g. macaques, etc., it is always best to keep them at arm's length. Wild animals should be left wild for their own good and ours too.\r\n\r\nBe very wary about feeding them or eating when they are around, especially monkeys. They are known optimists and are brave enough to help themselves to food from anyone, regardless of age. They can come at you, all at once, in a group, which can be very frightening.\r\n\r\nAlso animals habour a variety of bacteria in their blood and spit. When they are provoked and attack, that bacteria can find its way into our bloodstream through open wounds. This is not only dangerous but sometimes can be fatal, as in the case of rabies, if the right treatment is not done on time.\r\nStray Encounters\r\n\r\n\r\nMeeting and playing with strays?\r\n\r\nAlways proceed with caution. Carefully observe the body language of the animal and let them make overtures.\r\n\r\nCats who are friendly will approach you, meowing and wrapping themselves around your ankles.\r\n\r\nDogs will wag their tails and ears should be down. The friendly tail wag is one where the whole body moves in rhythm to the tail wag. They would also be "smiling" but not baring their front teeth.\r\n\r\nMoms, you should allow the animal to approach you and not your children. If you are in an area with a lot of strays, eating would not be a good idea. Animals have a keen sense of smell and as strays, they would be hungry.\r\n\r\nIf your heart is moved to feed them and you want that to be a teachable moment for your children, leave the food and step away. Hand feeding is highly discouraged as these animals have never been hand fed before and probably would not know how to do it.\r\nMeeting Other Pets\r\n\r\nMeeting Doggies\r\nThis would probably be the most common encounter with pets, especially at dog-friendly parks and areas.\r\n\r\nWhen approaching other dogs, always check with the owner for permission before approaching the dog. No matter how friendly a dog may present itself, dogs are always very protective of their owners. An overexcited child can trigger self defensive responses in dogs.\r\n\r\nWhen petting an outside dog, always pet them on their side and not on their heads. Dogs generally do not like to be petted on the head. They perceive that as a threat. Your pet is the exception, rather than the norm and he is used to it.\r\nMeeting Kitties\r\n\r\n\r\nVisiting a relative or friend who has cats is a good moment to encounter one. Cats can make very loving and wonderful pets. They are expressive and very vocal when they want to be.\r\n\r\nAgain, seek permission from the owner before you approach and stroke the cat. If the owner has a number of cats, she will usually pick out the most amiable of the lot for play.\r\n\r\nKeep an eye out for any signs of agitation like the whipping of their tail back and forth vigorously or their desire to run away. If the pet displays such signs, it is best to let them be. While cat attacks are not as serious as dogs, their scratch can sting. Plus it could traumatise your little one.\r\nPets For Personal Development\r\nPets are a delight to have. The benefits, even without research are obvious, at least to the pet owners out there.\r\n\r\nLiving with pets lends a richness to life.\u00a0 Their very presence boosts our happiness and encourages experiential learning through observation and constant contact.\r\n\r\nTo love them and serve them well we need to treat them with the respect they deserve. Only with this on hand can we reap the full joy of having pets.\r\n\r\nFor those of you with pets, now is the moment to give them some love and affection. For those who rather not have them, at least you will be able to appreciate them from afar.