Your First Pet
Making the decision to get a first pet is life-changing; it means having a sweet and loyal companion for years to come, but it also means taking on a huge responsibility. It’s important to do some research and be well-informed before choosing a pet, as she’ll be relying on you to take the best care of her you can. Knowing which breed is right for you, how to make sure she’s comfortable and safe, and how to prepare your home will go a long way toward ensuring that you and your pet are a good match from the start.
It’s also important to have a plan for bonding with your new pet. Whether she was abandoned or rescued and comes from an adoption center, you rescued her yourself or she is acquired from a friend or acquaintance, it will be imperative to spend some quality time with her, especially over the first few weeks. This will help the two of you form a special relationship and will allow her to trust you.
Here are some of the best tips for preparing for your first pet.
Choose the Right Dog
The different breeds have their own unique characteristics, and whether you go for a single- or mixed-breed, choosing the right characteristics for you and your family is essential. Do a little research to find out as much as possible about the animal you’re interested in. Some dogs, for instance, are better with small children than others. You might want a lapdog who doesn’t shed, or perhaps you’d rather have a large guard dog who will protect you and your family. Whatever you’re looking for, do some homework before making a decision.
Animal Planet has a comprehensive questionnaire that can help you narrow-down suitable matches for your family’s lifestyle. Alternatively, DogTime has a large section listing the characteristics of different breeds, so with either a single- or mixed-breed, you can get a good idea of the general characteristics your dog will have.
Prepare Your Home
Prepping your home is essential. Not only do you need to have things ready for your new pet—such as food, dishes, bedding, toys, and anything she might need for toilet-training—you also need to go from room to room to look for hazards in order to keep her safe. Whether she’s a puppy who’ll feel the need to chew on things or an older dog who has mobility issues, it’s important to make sure your house is safe for her. Remove any plants that might be toxic, trip hazards such as throw rugs, and loose cords. Put candy and other foods that could become a choking hazard in a high place, out of reach.
Bond with Your Pet
If possible, take some time off work during the first week or two that your first pet is home so you can spend some quality time together. Bonding is important because it builds trust and helps your animal get used to your routine while establishing a new one for the both of you. Take her for walks, play with her toys, and do lots of cuddling. For some more great tips on how to bond with your dog, read on here.
Train Her Well
Training your dog is essential, even if it’s just teaching her a few simple commands. Making sure she knows how to behave and mind her manners is important, especially if you have children or frequent houseguests. She should know how to sit, stay, get down, and come to you. Karen Pryor has an extensive section on her website called “training the basics.”
Preparing for a new pet is important, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Start with a good plan and keep communication open with your family members so that everyone knows what to expect and how to help. With a little preparation and a lot of love, you can choose the right pet for you and make sure she’s healthy and happy.