Bringing Home Your First Pet: How to Prepare
Written By: Jessica Brody
When you think about getting a pet, the first feelings are excitement and joy as you imagine the fun you’ll have with your cute, new friend. However, being a pet owner is a big responsibility, and the decision to get a pet doesn’t come lightly. You need to ensure you choose the right animal for you, prepare your home accordingly, and make sure you take good care of your new companion. Taking the proper steps before you bring an animal into your home helps to ensure you and your pet share a happy and healthy relationship.
Choosing the Right Pet
One of the most important aspects of choosing a pet is determining how much space you have. Many fish are small, but some require large tanks. The same is true for reptiles, amphibians, birds, hamsters, and other animals that require cages. Remember that animals grow. A puppy that fits in your lap now may grow to be over 100 pounds. Similarly, a snake that’s less than one foot in length now can grow to be much larger.
Cats and dogs require space to move around, so if you live in a 400-square-foot apartment, you may want to consider a fish, bird, or hamster. If you have an apartment and want a dog, stick with smaller breeds, and remember that dogs will require outdoor space as well. You must be willing to walk your dog several times a day, regardless of the weather or your mood. If you are opting for a dog, you will want to research the breed (if possible) to see if you have a good match. Again, if you live in a tiny apartment, that’s not a good option for a Border Collie.
The temperament of any animal you choose should match what you’re looking for. Some animals and individual breeds are more independent, while others need a lot of attention. Consider the energy level of the animal you’re adopting. Some breeds of cats and dogs prefer to lounge around, while others have high energy levels.
Think about the kinds of activities you want to do with your new furry friend to help you determine what kind of pet is right for you. If you prefer a more hands-off pet to observe, a dog is not going to be the right choice. If you want to snuggle your animal, a fish isn’t the best decision.
Preparing Your Home for a Pet
Find out if your animal requires special cages or food, and have those items ready before you get your pet. You don’t want to be setting up your hamster’s cage after you bring him home. Have food bowls, leashes, collars, toys, and anything else you need before you get your new family member. If your pet isn’t kept in a cage, such as a dog or cat, provide him or her with a safe, quiet, and comfortable area, such as a bed or crate.
Research as much as you can about how to care for your new animal friend. You need to know what to feed and what not to feed it, how to feed it, how often to clean its cage, how to clean its cage, how to groom your pet, and more. As you can see, there is a lot to prepare for when caring for an animal.
Every activity you share with your animal builds a bond. Petting and grooming provide comfort, while training and playing help build a bond. If Fido is a service or companion animal, there are special ways to bond or spend time with your new animal. Many of the ways are the same as other pets, but with a focus on you doing as much as possible without other family members around.
Keep in mind the importance of providing your furry friend with proper mental stimulation and attention. For dog owners, it’s especially helpful to incorporate obedience training with early socialization. By introducing your pet to expected behaviors in specific situations, that can pave the way for better behavior down the road.
Caring for Your Pet
Fulfilling your dog’s needs for exercise, discipline, and affection is crucial. Regardless of how much or how little activity your pet requires, he or she needs structure to stay balanced. Create a schedule feedings, training, sleep, and playtime. You need to stay consistent.
Make regular vet appointments for your animal. Even snakes, birds, gerbils, and other animals need checkups. It’s important to keep shots up to date, monitor your pet’s health, and catch problems before they become serious. If you choose to get a dog or a cat, it’s vital that you spay or neuter when the time is appropriate. Also, consider microchipping your dog or cat. Even if you’re careful, pets can get away.
Unexpected illnesses or accidents do happen with animals, which is why it’s worth looking into pet insurance. This can help cover the costs of medications and major medical bills in the event that your animal is injured or gets sick. Ask your veterinarian for a recommendation.
Lastly, it’s important to consider the outcome for your animal if something happens to you. Be proactive here and talk to friends or family members to determine who can take over guardianship of your pet if the unthinkable were to occur. You want your pet to still have the best life possible even if you can’t be there for them.
Having a pet is a lot of fun and can provide you with a special bond and a companion. However, it’s important that you choose the right pet for your needs and lifestyle. You are making a commitment to care for this living creature, and you want to be prepared to follow through. When it’s time to take the leap, don’t pass up planning ahead before bringing your pet home, and make sure you are well educated in how to care for your animal. Doing so will ensure your animal companion lives a longer and happier life.