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Author: Our Best Friends
Becoming a first-time pet owner is filled with a mix of emotions for both you and your new furry friend. You may not know what to expect, so it takes a little research and preparation to get ready for this big change. These tips will get you off to the right start in order to minimize anxiety and maximize the fun.
Choosing a Pet
Before you go to a shelter and fall in love with the first dog you see, spend a little time determining what you’re looking for in a pet.
- What size pet can you accommodate? If you’re thinking about getting a large dog, make sure you can meet their needs. A large dog needs plenty of space both indoors and out. They also need more exercise than smaller dogs, so you need to have the time to walk them or go to a dog park regularly.
- What do you want to do with your pet? Are you looking for a family pet who is good with kids, a dog to take on outdoor adventures, or a couch potato to cuddle with? There are many different dog breeds to choose from, so you may want to start by looking at some of the most popular breeds to see which characteristics fit what you’re looking for. If you adopt a dog from a shelter, you can usually tell a little about its parentage and its personality from visiting before you adopt.
- How much time do you have for your pet? All animals need love and affection, but some require more hands-on attention than others. Cats tend to be more self-sufficient than dogs, so they’re a better choice for someone who isn’t home much. Puppies need much more of your time than adult dogs because they need to be house trained and have lots of energy.
Creating a Welcoming Home
Go ahead and get the items your pet may need before bringing him home. The basics include food and water bowls, food, a leash, collar, treats, and toys. A big dog will need a soft and supportive large dog bed and a crate for when you’re away, while you may want a stroller for a smaller dog. You may also need portable food and water bowls for travel or outings. Be sure to puppy-proof (or dog-proof for older dogs who are chewers) by removing anything a dog shouldn’t get into and setting up a gated area for your dog.
While you’re shopping, be sure you have everything you need to make your life more comfortable now that you’ll have a pet. Any animal with fur will shed to at least some degree, so if you don’t already have one, pick up a quality vacuum cleaner (preferably one with attachments to tackle fur, dander and stray kibble in hard-to-reach places). You should also stock up on a pet-friendly surface cleaner, and if anyone in your home has allergies, an air purifier that removes dander and other pet-related allergens is a great investment. If your new pet has an accident, make sure to clean it immediately, but you may have to call in a professional cleaning service if it’s on carpeting.
Making a Smooth Transition
Bringing home your new pet is a big change for you both, but you can help him acclimate by staying calm. When you first bring your dog in, having a relaxed demeanor will go a long way toward helping him feel comfortable. Let your dog sniff around the house, sniff you, and come to you when he’s ready. As you both start to settle in, establish a daily routine so your dog can get used to his new life with you.
If you adopt a rescue animal that seems nervous or fearful when you first bring them home, use a soft voice and give them plenty of time to adjust. Paw Culture recommends using food to encourage them to associate you with love and care. Food is a strong force for bonding, so make a point of staying in the same room with your dog after giving him a meal or special treat.
Forming a Lasting Bond
Your bond starts right away when you bring your dog home. Talk to your dog and make eye contact. This may feel silly at first, but your dog will get to know your voice and associate you with meeting their needs. Giving your dog plenty of attention through petting, grooming, playing, and walking will make that bond even stronger.
Finding the perfect pet may not happen right way, but it’s well worth the time to be sure you’re making the right match. Don’t let the options and preparations overwhelm you! Stay calm and enjoy your new companion. You will be a seasoned pet parent in no time.
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