A Guide to Owning Your First Pet

Congratulations! You’ve decided to take in your first pet. However, you might be confused about what you need to do next and where to start. First, you need to choose the right animal.

Choosing a pet
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Choosing a Pet

There’s more to bringing home a pet than just a quick trip to the pet store. You need to first and foremost decide on the best pet for your home and your family. Ask yourself these questions first:

  • Is my home big enough for the kind of pet I want?
  • Does anyone I live with or who regularly visits have pet allergies?
  • How much time do I have to care for my pet? For example, if you travel a lot, a dog might not be a good fit.
  • How much am I willing to spend on my pet annually? Keep in mind things like annual vet visits, hospital emergencies, spaying/neutering your pet, food and pet supplies, grooming, and boarding. Read AVMA’s article on money tips for pet owners.
  • What kind of activities would I like to do with my pet? Do you want an animal that keeps you active, such as a dog, or one that you can sit back and observe, like fish?
  • What is the lifespan of my pet?
  • Who will care for my pet when I’m not available? You may want to hire a regular dog walker to take your dog out while you’re at work.

If you’re getting a pet for your child, there are more things to keep in mind, such as educating your child on how to safely handle a pet. You may want to consider a service pet for the family if your child has a disability. Read more about different pet options for children at ChicoER Lifestyle.

Once you select a pet, you may also need to choose a breed, particularly for fish, reptiles, and dogs. Understand the characteristics and common temperament of each breed. Which fits best with your lifestyle and home?

Finally, you’ll have options on where to get your pet. You can visit a pet shop or go to an adoption or rescue agency. With dogs, you can also go to a breeder. Read how to find a responsible breeder at American Kennel Club.

Bringing Your Pet Home

Once you’ve selected a pet, you’ll need to prepare your home. This could be as simple as setting up a space for your pet and stocking up on food and supplies.

For cats and dogs, you’ll need a vet visit and vaccinations, as well as other equipment. It’s best to spay or neuter cats or dogs to prevent overpopulation. Fixing your animal can also help calm your pet’s behaviors.

Finally, some states require that dogs have a license, so check the laws in your state. Your pet provider should be able to help you. Additionally, you may want to consider training your dog to make life more manageable. Check out the Humane Society’s tip sheet on positive-reinforcement training for dogs.

Before bringing home a dog, you’ll have to do a few more tasks, including:

  • Establishing rules for your pet and your family to keep everyone safe.
  • Preparing to housetrain him.
  • Setting up an area of his own.
  • Preparing your friends, family, and neighbors for your new pet.
  • Making sure your home is free of puppy or dog hazards, and making sure your dog can’t escape anywhere.

If you are bringing home a rescue dog, you may need to take extra care. These dogs may be anxious and skittish. As Kim Hormby of The Bark explains, “Their lives have been turned upside-down, they are scared and are often coming out of a situation that was intimidating and uncomfortable.” This will be a time of adjustment, so be patient. Try crate training to give him a safe place and buy him toys and treats to make him feel welcome.

Getting a pet is a big responsibility and one not to take lightly. But if you plan ahead and use some of the tips in this article, you’ll be able to manage it and enjoy a new member of your family.

Article written by OurBestFriends.pet



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