First-Time Pet Owners

Advice for First-Time Pet Owners: From Picking a Pet to Helping a Pet Settle into Your Home

Photo Credit: Tomasz_Mikolajczyk, Pixabay

Getting a pet is exciting, but it comes with many responsibilities, the first of which is choosing the right pet. Once you make that difficult decision, you’ll need to prepare your home, find a vet, and get the necessary supplies. After bringing your pet home, you’ll need to help her adjust and spend a lot of time caring for your pet, training her, and giving her plenty of attention. Taking your time with each step and carefully making decisions and preparations keeps your pet safe and happy, which results in a strong relationship between you and your pet.

Picking a Pet

Ensure you understand the commitment required of each type of pet. Dogs need to be walked three times a day and require training. Cats need daily play time with their owners and need litter box cleaning. If you have a schedule that makes it hard to commit to these activities, consider a pet that’s more low maintenance, such as a fish or a parakeet.

The pet you choose should also fit into your lifestyle. “Choosing a pet based on how popular or cute it is, is probably one of the worst decisions people make,” says petMD. Far too often, owners surrender their pets to animal shelters because they weren’t prepared for the pet’s high energy, neediness, stubbornness, messiness, etc. You should consider the pet’s size, activity level, trainability, tolerance toward children, noise level, annual cost, and more.

Preparing for Your Pet

Make sure your house is pet-friendly before bringing your new pet home. Your pet will be curious and will want to explore, so place latches on cabinet doors. Medications, cleaners, and chemicals should be out of reach, and trash cans need to have lids. Keep toilet lids closed, and put away children’s toys and knick-knacks. All dangling wires and cords should be secured. Look for dangerous items like strings, buttons, coins, and needles. Keep in mind, too, that some plants in and around the home can be poisonous to pets.

Buy all essential items for your pet beforehand. Be sure to buy food that’s appropriate for your pet’s breed, size, and age. For the best advice, consult your veterinarian. You’ll also want to purchase appropriate toys and treats for your pet. Other supplies include a crate or cage, bed, collar, leash, grooming supplies, and pet ID. Ask your friends for their veterinary recommendations, look for reviews online, and interview veterinarians before getting your pet. Ask the vet to provide a few references as well.

Once Your Pet is Home

Most pets will be intimidated by their new surroundings and will need an adjustment period. They may cry at first, especially during the night. To help them acclimate, set up a quiet space with a comfortable bed or a crate. Training for your pet needs to start immediately after bringing her home. Introduce a cat to the litter box as soon as she’s inside. A dog should be leashed and taken for a walk around the neighborhood soon after her arrival. Allow your pet to roam around the house to smell everything and explore with your supervision.

Feeding and grooming provides bonding, but you’ll get the most bonding from playing with your pet. Set up games for your cat to play or build tunnels and play hide-and-seek with your guinea pig. Dogs love going on walks; it prevents boredom, provides exercise, allows them to use the bathroom, and provides a chance for socialization. If your work schedule will prohibit you from giving your dog frequent walks during the week, consider hiring a dog walker to come multiple times each week so that your pup is getting plenty of exercise.

Owning a pet comes with many benefits, but also many responsibilities. You must choose which pet to adopt, carefully considering the type of animal, the breed, and what age the pet should be. You’ll also need to research the time, care level, cost, and more. Preparing your home so that your pet has a safe environment is crucial. Then you can work on training your pet and spending quality time with her too.

Info from Jessica Brody @


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