Preparing for New Additions: Advice for First-Time Pet Owners
Are you thinking of becoming a pet owner? Adding to your household is a big decision since your new friend will not only share your space, but you will also be responsible for his well-being for the foreseeable future. Making a good choice and preparing thoughtfully are your keys to ensuring both you and your new pet are happy with the decision.
Mesh with Your Lifestyle
What kind of pet is right for you? Before you select one, in particular, consider what species will fit best with your current lifestyle. Do you have a large yard with room to run, or are you looking for a workout buddy? An active dog might be the perfect fit. If you live in an apartment, a small, quiet dog or cat might be a better option. Does anyone in your home have allergies? In that case, there are specific types of pets that tend to be better choices than others. There are hairless varieties of cats, dogs, or guinea pigs. You might even be better off with a reptile or amphibian, which is also nice if you are tight on space.
Pros and Cons of Youngsters
Adding a furry friend like a cat or dog often means deciding on what age pet is right for your household. Some experts recommend those who add a puppy to their homes should be home most of the day, and point out that until a puppy is an adult he will require quite a bit of training. However, it’s a chance to shape your dog’s behavior right from the start, whereas with an adult, someone else might have laid a shaky foundation. Like pups, kittens tend to need almost constant supervision. Babies of both species are adorable, but they tend to be curious and need to be taught what behaviors are acceptable.
Adding an Adult
Adult pets have a special sweetness and charm. They tend to be more calm and predictable than babies, and often already have house manners. Seniors can be especially adorable with their wise, soulful eyes and gray muzzles, but you might need to make special arrangements with your new friend in mind. For instance, if an older pet is arthritic, special steps or a ramp may be needed to maneuver through your home. Senior cats might need litter boxes with lower openings, and both senior dogs and cats might need taller bowls so they don’t have to stoop.
Do Some Pet-Proofing
Before you bring home your new companion, be sure to remove any hazards your friend could stumble onto. Go through every room and do some pet-proofing, such as stowing poisonous plants, medications, and foods safely out of reach. Become familiar with what foods are toxic to your pet. For instance, chocolate, grapes, and avocados are toxic to dogs. Also, ensure other hazardous materials such as antifreeze, insecticides and rodent poisons are secured. Put up electrical cords or any cords dangling from curtains and blinds, which your pet could accidentally tangle in or chew. If you’re enclosing a yard for Fido, check your landscaping for toxic plants and select a dog-appropriate fence.
Bonding with Your Friend
When you finally bring home your new family member, resist the urge to invite people you know for a visit — or worse, to tote your new addition to them. Pets need time to adjust to their new surroundings, and rescue pets can be particularly anxious at first. Bear in mind your pet has endured a major change in circumstances, so allow time for settling in, with some quiet, relaxed interaction while you get to know each other. The Animal Humane Society recommends restricting your new pet to a small section of your home during the initial introduction, and be consistent with rules from the start. The structure will help your pet understand boundaries.
When it’s time to add a companion animal to your family, preparation and decision-making are your keys to success. Consider carefully what type of animal will fit with your lifestyle. Making good choices from the start will mean that you and your new friend remain happy together.