Being a responsible pet owner means being attentive to a pet’s needs and quirks, knowing what he likes and dislikes, and fashioning your care based on that knowledge. It’s also about understanding what kind of dog or cat is right for you and your family and exercising common sense when making a selection.
Some owners ignore circumstances and bring home a pet that’s ill-suited to their living situation and persona simply because they’ve always wanted a Rottweiler or a Himalayan. Yet many people do just that. It’s important to everyone’s happiness and the animal’s well-being that the pet you bring home is a good overall fit.
This is probably the single most important factor to consider. Lifestyle determines how much time you’re able and willing to spend with an animal. If you’re frequently traveling or your job keeps you in the office 50 or more hours a week, your lifestyle may be more conducive to owning a cat, a famously
independent and self-sufficient animal. On the other hand, if you’re an active, outdoors-oriented type of person, a Labrador or Collie would probably be a better companion than a Dachshund or some other traditional lap dog.
Think through your family situation. If you have small rambunctious children, you’d be well-advised to think twice before buying a dog with aggressive tendencies, such as a Chow Chow. One ill-timed pull of the tail or ear could result in stitches.
Visit a Shelter
Animal shelters love to introduce potential owners to different breeds. Many have private rooms and outdoor space where you can get used to each other and determine whether you’ve found the right pet. As you spend time with each one, note how shy or aggressive it is as well as its age and if it’s good around children — not every pet is.
The tendency of most people is to gravitate toward an animal that’s engaging and energetic; they’re good attention-getters. But you could be missing out on a good pal by ignoring a pooch that seems low-key. Are you looking for an animal that’s already house trained, or are you okay with starting from scratch and doing some training yourself? It’s an important factor, one that could have a very negative effect. More people return animals for going to the bathroom in the house than any other reason.
Prepping Your Home
You can’t just bring a pet home, toss him on the couch, and hope for the best. There’s some prep work to do so that everyone gets off to a good start and your new pet feels comfortable.
Block off any rooms or areas you don’t want your furry friend wandering into, and create his own space — perhaps a corner of a room that’ll accommodate a dog or cat bed, food and water dish, toys, and any items that’ll help them acclimate. You’ll also need some items to ‘pick up’ after your new pet, such as a scooper and dog waste bags if you’re adopting a dog.
If the idea of cleaning a litter box makes you uneasy, don’t let it get in the way of enjoying a cat. There are many extremely handy self-cleaning litter boxes on the market. Also cats love to climb, so consider purchasing a cat tree to keep him active.
Don’t abandon your new pet; spend plenty of time with him during those first few days, especially if you’ve brought a rescue pet home. Walk him around the yard or introduce him to different parts of your house. Remember, the idea is to make him feel comfortable and head off any anxiety that could lead to bad behavior. Make a point to spend time with your pet every day and take him along on a camping or hiking trip — it’s a great bonding opportunity.
Pets make great friends and wonderful companions. They’re a continual source of unquestioning affection and physical interaction. Finding the right pet can benefit you emotionally and physically for many happy years.