Birds make lovely companions, but choosing the right one for your circumstances is key. Steer clear of parrots, whose chatter will be audible in nearby apartments. Better choices include zebra finches, society finches, and colorful Gouldian finches. These birds are quite sociable; it's important to buy them in pairs, so that they will not become lonely when you're away from home all day. Be sure that their cage is large enough for them to fly about freely, with bars narrow enough to contain them. Discuss the breeds you are considering with a veterinarian who sees plenty of birds; she should be able to advise on where to buy them and how to help make the transition into their new home easier.
Some parakeets, as well as other birds, can learn to mimic human words with encouragement on your part, but not all will. Young male parakeets are the easiest to train. But, a pet bird won't want to mimic your words until it is able to identify with you as a friend. That's why the first step toward teaching your parakeet to talk is to interact with him often. Try four 10-minute talking sessions a day. (Recordings of words rarely work, because a bird responds to the sounds of its flock members -- in this case, you and your family.) Start by repeating words to your bird, making sure to speak clearly. When he has learned a word or phrase, move to another. If he likes you and has an inborn talent for mimicry, the bird will start to repeat the words; this can take anywhere from a week to several months.
3 of 3A new pet can indeed disrupt a household, but it is certainly not impossible for dogs and cats to live happily together. Make sure to shower them all with affection equally, trying never to show favoritism. The puppy should have a training cage or crate of his own. Until the animals get used to each other, keep the puppy in the crate whenever they are left unsupervised. (Do not leave the puppy confined to the crate for a period of more than two to three hours, though.) The puppy will pester the cats, and vice versa, so be sure to trim the cats' claws before you bring the dog home. Dogs love to eat cat food, so it is a good idea to feed the cats in a place where they can reach their food but the dog cannot. Do not worry about the inevitable tussles; the animals will eventually learn to get along.
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