Whether you are looking at bringing a cat or a dog into your home, if you are a first-time pet owner, you might not be aware of the commitment that you are entering. Pet ownership is a choice that will affect you for the duration of the pet’s life. There are of course expenses to consider, but most importantly, your life will, to some extent at least, revolve around caring for another living creature. But for many, this commitment is more than worth the work. Fortunately, with some planning and preparation, you can experience the joy of pet ownership and minimize the stress.

Consider the commitment

Before deciding to acquire a pet, carefully consider if pet ownership is right for you. If you are in an apartment, does the lease permit pets? If you are a homeowner, do you have a fenced yard? You should also think about the lifestyle change that pet ownership brings. If you have a dog, for example, you might need to come straight home from work, whereas you may be accustomed to meeting with friends for dinner or picking up groceries on the way home. Also, your ability to travel freely will be impacted by your pet ownership. Your pet craves stability, especially when new to you and your home. If you are a frequent traveler, you may want to put off the pet decision until a time when your schedule is more predictable.

Make an informed decision about pet breeds

When you bring an animal into your family, you have countless choices. Some make the mistake of basing their decision on what’s trendy or cute or available from the shelter or breeder and disregarding their situation and the requirements of the particular breed.  If you are looking for a dog, for example, there are many breeds, and each has their quirks and benefits, and the same applies to cats. A sizeable athletic dog is a wonderful companion, but she’ll need a lot of exercise. And cats aren’t all as independent as one might think. Certain breeds, such as Persian, need a lot of love and attention and are easily stressed by changes and owner absence. Some kinds of either animal shed more than others, which can cause concerns if you or another member of your family has allergies. More superficially, a shedding animal might mean that you need a better vacuum as well, or you may want to stock up on lint rollers.

Prepare your home for your pet

Once you’ve decided that you are up to the task and have settled on a breed, you should thoroughly assess your home to ensure that the pet will be happy and safe. This assessment involves ridding your home of hazards, such as poisonous plants, and adding creature comforts for your pet. Ways in which you can make your home more comfortable and accommodating for pets include putting a cozy bed in each room and establishing a pet room, which is essential if crate training a dog. Your cat is going to need an area for his litter box, too. You’ll want to establish this space in an area that balances being out of the way and nearby so you can make sure it’s cleaned regularly.

Acclimate your pet

Since your home is a new space for your pet, you’re going to need to tread lightly and exercise patience. For a dog, establish training and playing routines, which will acclimate your dog to you, build authority, set limits and create a bond. A cat’s acclimation is often all about his feeling of safety, which will eventually come as his surroundings become familiar and his interactions with you and other family members become regular.

Establish an emergency plan

An equally important step in new pet ownership is creating a plan for when problems arise. Pets can have sudden medical emergencies that can be costly. Make sure you have a plan for these unexpected expenses before deciding to get a pet. Pet insurance is available and should be considered if you want to avoid surprise vet bills. Also, it’s crucial to have a plan for who the dog or cat could stay with if you had an emergency.

Pet ownership can be an exciting and rewarding experience for both you and your animal. A stress-free experience is possible, as long as the decision is carefully considered and your life plan includes your furry family members.

Author: Aurora James


Related Reading

[email protected] 202-854-1776