Guest blog post by Jessica Brody, Our Best Friends
Thinking about getting a pet, but unsure where to start? You'll need a lot of patience, plenty of research, and even more love for your new friend. Here are some things to consider before buying or adopting.
Choosing Your Pet
There are a variety of factors you should consider when choosing your pet, such as finances and available free time. Something to take into account will be your living arrangements. If you reside in an apartment, a small breed, like a dog, cat or bird, may be your best option. If you have allergies, or you live with someone who does, you may have to choose a pet that is hypoallergenic. You should also consider your own needs. In terms of lifestyle, do you want an active pet, or one that is less demanding? A dog will be perfect if you're looking for a bundle of energy, but a cat or other small breed of animal would be better-suited if you prefer quiet and less demanding.
Prep, Prep, and More Prep
Whatever pet you choose, preparation is essential. Choosing the right veterinarian is critical, and it is a good idea to have your first appointment arranged within a week of getting your pet. You should also make sure to purchase supplies, like toys, bowls, and bed, before you bring your pet home. And when it comes to food, research what diet will be most nutritious for your pet.
Another important area to focus on is your home, starting with pet-proofing. No matter what animal you choose, your home can contain many hazards. Survey your house, and identify hazards which might tempt your pet. Tape wires, remove poisonous houseplants, and ensure harmful substances are not accessible. As an extra precaution, consider gating off areas you do not want your pet venturing into, and make sure that fencing is secure. Given the potential for something adverse happening, it is important to have a pet emergency plan so that you can swiftly address any situation when it arises.
Finally, be ready to clean up any messes your new best friend will make. Lay down puppy pads to protect your floor from accidents. Consider an air purifier or essential oil diffuser to combat the smells. Do some research online to find a good vacuum with a pet tool to keep your carpets, rugs, and furniture fur free. This proactive approach can save you a lot of time and trouble. Plus, if you spend less time cleaning, you can spend more time playing.
Patience is needed in abundance once you bring your pet home. It may take time for them to adjust to their new environment. This is especially the case if they are adopted or older. It you have opted for a dog or cat, consider leaving a crate open so that they have a refuge for when things become overwhelming. If your pet had a previous owner, be sure to ask what the previous schedule was like, as maintaining familiar patterns can reduce stress. If you have a dog, it may be necessary to hire a walker to ensure they stay exercised and their schedule is kept. Stress can also be reduced through familiar items, so if they already have blankets or toys, keep them for your pet. Initially limit who comes into contact with your new companion, as this sort of excitement could compound anxiety. Focus first on training, as this will ensure both good behavior and comfort when faced with stressful situations.
Just as with the process of settling in, it may take a while to establish a close bond with your pet, and it won't always be smooth. However, with effort and patience, you can cultivate a trusting and loving relationship between you both. Give them time to adjust, but be sure to offer plenty of attention in order to foster strong connections. Try to play with them as much as you can, and provide comfort through stroking and grooming. Routine is a great stress-reducer for a pet, but it's also an opportunity for bonding. Take your pet out for walks if they require it, have set feeding times, and make training and playtime enjoyable. If you have a dog, try to take them with you as often as you can, and consider arranging fun activities like hiking. Lastly, don't hold back on your appreciation for your new companion. Offer treats when they merit it, and acknowledge their good behavior through approving physical contact.
A lot of work can go into pet ownership, but it will be worth it. Pets offer a source of love and comfort that is hard to match. With a little prep, and a lot of love, you and your new pet will be on your way to a lifetime of happy memories.