So you’ve said yes to the abundant rewards of pet ownership. Congratulations! There really is nothing like the company of a beloved pet. For first-time pet owners especially, the better prepared you are, the easier it will be on you and your new member of the family. Read on for tips and advice on doing it right from the get-go.
Choosing the right pet for you depends a lot on your personality, what works best for your lifestyle, whether anyone in your family has pet-specific allergies, and what you’re able to afford. You’ll want to consider all the expenses, from food and toys to grooming, routine vet care, and occasional vet emergency care and boarding.
Puppies or Dogs
Before getting a dog, research the best breed for your lifestyle, be it one that’s best for a sedentary senior or one who could be your running companion. Also, consider how much time you’re away from home. Dogs are very social creatures and live to be with their person. They need daily walks and the opportunity to go outside to relieve themselves at least three to five times per day. Veterinarians recommended that dogs go no more than six to eight hours between trips outdoors. And getting a puppy can be even more challenging unless you can take significant time away from work to train, socialize, and spend time with him. But don’t lose hope! There are ways to work around any busy work or school schedule. Automatic dog feeders can be programmed to give your pooch his meals on time, and electronic dog doors can give you the assurance that your dog can go outside whenever he needs. And, of course, you can always hire a reliable pet sitter or dog walker as well.
If you are renting, you’ll need to find out if your landlord or community has any breed restrictions. Whether you own your own home or are renting, part of being a good neighbor is scooping up after your dog, so you’ll want to prepare yourself for that as well. Also, keep in mind that some dog breeds shed more than others. In other words, if your career requires you to wear a white uniform, think twice about bringing home a Bernese Mountain dog!
Kittens or Cats
If considering a kitten or cat, be prepared to maintain a litter box. Cats also need scratching posts because they scratch to keep their claws clean and mark their territory. They also love to climb, and they’re not the easiest to train, so if the thought of having a cat on your counters, your desk, or even on top of your refrigerator bothers you, listen to your intuition! On a positive note, cats are more independent than dogs and can make the most delightful (and entertaining) companions. Another bonus is that their average lifespan is 15 to 20 years — not as long as grey parrots, who live to be 40-60, but longer than some large dogs who live six to eight years.
When you bring a pet home, you are making a commitment to care for that pet for life. The kind of pet you choose will determine how to prepare for his arrival. Choose a veterinarian before getting your pet and add the phone number to your contact list. All pets will need food, bowls, bedding, and a few toys. You may also need to keep the number of a local maid service on hand for those days when fitting house-cleaning duties into your schedule simply isn’t possible. And considering that cleaning your home can rid it of pet hair and dander, it’s important to stay on top of this task. In the Kinnelon/Butler, New Jersey, area, you should expect to spend between $115 and $242 on a one-time cleaning from a professional maid service.
For dogs or cats, you’ll need to pet-proof your house and yard as well.
The level of bonding you’ll have with your pet is also dependent upon the type you choose. Puppies usually bond quickly, but it can take longer with older dogs and rescue pets. To establish trust and make your pet feel at home, you’ll want to spend as much time as possible with him at first while giving him plenty of praise and treats.
As a pet owner, you’ve got wonderful days ahead of you. As Anatole France once said, “Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” Bravo to you for doing your research and joining the world of responsible pet owners.
About the Author
Jessica Brody created OurBestFriends.pet so others could find a place to share stories and photos of their beloved animal companions.
Photo via Unsplash