Dog BehaviorDogs in General

Advice First-Time Pet Owners Should Consider

Advice for first time pet owners

According to statistics from 2011, more than half of all households (56 percent) in the United States owned pets. A worldwide survey also found that Americans tend to think of pets as family members, which is a rarity among the countries polled.

So for everyone who doesn’t have a pet but is looking to add another member of the family, here are some tips and advice.

Which Pet Is Right for You?

Truth is, there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for figuring out the breed of animal that’s right for you. Mostly, it comes down to your living situation. If you’ve inherited the family farm, feel free to get a Clydesdale-sized dog like a (200 pound) St. Bernard, which can roam through a backyard. Now, if you call home a matchbox-sized apartment with a bevy of roommates, a lay about cat might be right for you.

Before you buy a pet, make sure you’re not allergic. Allergens can make your eyes water and even cause you to hack and wheeze uncontrollably. For people who really want pets but are sensitive to dander, a good choice may be a fish, turtle, or snake, which won’t torture you with their fur and feathers.

Preparing Your Home

Owning a pet can be an exciting experience, but it’s crucial you prepare your home so your new pet enters an environment in which he can thrive. Especially if the pet you’re bringing is a puppy or a kitten (or a baby of any species), be sure to pet-proof the house. That might include taping up electrical cords, removing vases from mantels, or putting up baby-gates in front of staircases. Configure his sleeping area, set out food and water bowls, and buy collars, leashes, dog beds, litter boxes, and anything else he needs to feel at home.

The point is that your pet has his own space to den or nest when he wants to be alone and relax.

Adopting an Elderly Pet

Acclimating a pet to a new home can be even more of a careful process for a rescue pet. When you’re adopting a rescue animal, keep in mind he could have come from a chaotic household, so he may be nervous or fearful at first. Just let your pet adjust on his own time.

Make sure to walk and feed him at the same time every day. Give him the space he needs until he realizes that you’re gentle and comes to you on his own.

The same might be said for an elderly pet. Give him time to get used to his surroundings but also embrace the animal for the stage of life that he’s in. One of the main perks of having an older pet is that he’s calm, doesn’t have to be housebroken, and isn’t a lot of work. Unlike puppies or kittens (or baby cockatoos), you don’t have to train these pets, and instead, you can devote your time to having fun with them.

Bonding with Your Pet

On that note, perhaps the main benefit of getting a pet at all is simply bonding. Just how you do that is going to depend on the pet itself. With a dog, you might go hiking in the woods, running around the park, or dashing through the sprinklers with him (and your kids).

A cat, though, is ready to blink his eyes and flex his paws whenever sunlight rays in through the glass – so maybe you could let him teach you to be a napper par excellence.

Whichever pet you have, make sure to include him in your daily activities, and spend time playing, cuddling, and paying attention to him. Oh, and a few nuzzles under the chin never hurt, either.

Image via Unsplash

Article written by: Jessica Brody, of

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