5 Tips for First-Time Pet Owners

by Jessica Brody

Congratulations! You’re about to be a first-time pet owner. While it may be tempting to play with your new pet the minute you get home, it’s important to keep in mind that your pet is coming into an unfamiliar place, and she may not yet feel comfortable in your home. Here are five tips you can follow to make sure the first few weeks with your new pet are full of love instead of anxiety.

Pick the right breed for your family

Cats don’t come in that many breeds, so you don’t really have to worry about the type you bring home. But if you have allergies, it’s best to get a short-haired cat instead of a long-haired cat. Deciding what dog breed is right for you is an important decision. Breeds can vary when it comes to fitness requirements, energy, and friendliness. If your home doesn’t have a backyard or has a very small backyard, you should consider a smaller dog that doesn’t need a lot of physical fitness, like a Chihuahua. If you have more space in your backyard, consider bringing home a pup that needs a lot of exercise, like a husky.

Prepare your home

Before you introduce your pet to your home, it’s important to pet proof so she doesn’t get injured wandering around. Get all the supplies you need beforehand, like litter boxes, food and water bowls, pet toys, dog gates, bedding, and collars and leashes. Once you’ve gotten everything you need, you should make sure your home is a safe place for your pet. Do this by taping electrical cords to your baseboards, removing plants and other breakables around your home, and putting any cleaning supplies or other toxic items in a safe place. Also remember to set up crates and install any gates you need for your new pet. Block off any small places that your furry friend could squeeze their way into.

You should also be ready to clean up after your new four-legged friend. Before you ever bring your pet home, you should already have purchased some cleaning supplies. This might include stain and pet odor removal sprays, baking soda, and a hair catcher for the bathtub. A high-quality vacuum cleaner is also well worth the investment as a pet owner. If you need a new one, look for a model that’s especially good at cleaning up pet fur and dander from thick carpeting.

Hire a dog walker

Dogs need their fair share of exercise, especially when they’re puppies. Puppies need a minimum of two walks a day. If you have a busy schedule and work long hours, you need to consider how your puppy is going to get her exercise. If you can’t take time off work, consider hiring a dog walker that will come to your home and walk your dog at various times throughout the day. But be sure you take the time to walk your dog too so you both can get used to walking together.

Make sure they feel comfortable

It’s easy for a new kitten or puppy to feel anxiety when they enter a new home, especially if you adopted from a shelter or a rescue organization. It’s an unfamiliar place and may be strange or scary. If you want your new pet to feel comfortable in your place, give them space to explore and feel safe. If she runs under your bed or behind your sofa, wait until she comes out on her own instead of dragging her out and rushing things. It’s helpful if she has something she can call her own, like a bed or toy, so she’ll feel more at ease.

Bond with your pet

This is the best part of owning a pet: bonding and playing. When your new cat or dog feels a bond with you, they feel loved and safe. Make sure you spend some quality one-on-one time with your new pet, especially if it’s a dog. Bonding includes training, and with training, it’s important to be consistent so that your dog understands what you’re trying to communicate. Commit to training every day, whether that’s obedience training or learning a fun new trick. Bonding also includes understanding what your pet likes and dislikes. When spending time with your animal, don’t lose your temper. Yelling can scare your pet, and it won’t help with bonding.

Bringing your pet home for the first time may be nerve-racking. But, with the right preparations, you’ll be sure to make her feel at ease and comfortable in your space.

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