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Essential Tips for First-Time Pet Owners

There are few things as exciting as becoming a pet owner for the first time. It’s the beginning of a journey that involves love, companionship, and care. But you can’t just haphazardly adopt a new pet. In order to make sure both you and your pet are happy together, you need to know what’s right for you, whether you can provide all that the animal needs, and how to make them comfortable as soon as they walk through your front door.

Choose the pet that fits your lifestyle

It’s important that you choose a pet that fits with your lifestyle. Mismatched pet/owner situations can lead to unhappy pets as well as unhappy owners, and this often means these pets are eventually given away. Do your research before you buy or adopt, so that you can be sure that you can handle all the responsibilities that come with your new pal.

First, consider your physical activity level. If you’re more sedentary or simply don’t have much time for daily exercise, you might want to shy away from a dog breed that needs a lot of exercise like a dalmation. You can opt for a breed that doesn’t require as much exercise, or possibly think about getting a cat instead.

Next, think about your living space. Bigger breeds like german shepherds and retrievers need larger living spaces and may only be suitable for those with their own home and yard. If you live in a small space - an apartment in the city, perhaps - you should consider a smaller breed like a corgi or beagle.

Prepare your home before you bring home your new pet

You can save yourself a lot of headaches if you first make the preparations for your new pet before bringing them home.

The first step is to make a list of pet supplies and go on a shopping run. For both dogs and cats, proper food (puppy/kitten or adult) is vital. Beyond that, you need to buy essentials like water bowls, toys, scratch posts, pee pads (for accidents), and travel crates (vet visits are common during the first year of adoption).

If adopting a puppy or a non-house trained adult dog, you’ll need to puppy proof your home, which may involve creating a designated space for them while they get acclimated to their new living situation.

“You’ll need to puppy-proof the area where the youngster will spend most of his time the first few months. This may mean taping loose electrical cords to baseboards; storing household chemicals on high shelves; removing plants, rugs, and breakables; setting up the crate; and installing gates. Once you think you’ve completely puppy-proofed, lie on the floor and look around once more to get a puppy’s-eye view,” suggests Petfinder.com.

How to deal with a fearful dog

Puppies can be fearful. Rescue dogs can be fearful. Any dog in a new living environment can be uneasy for a while.

The first step is to exude calm yourself. "If you feel tense, the dog is going to pick up on it," famous dog trainer Cesar Millan tells Woman’s Day. "I always stay calm. If I get nervous with her, my actions won't be precise."

If your new dog is scared of certain objects in your home, leave them laying around so the dog can get acclimated to them. Give your dog food, water and affection around the items so they can develop positive associations. Don’t wall them off in areas where they can’t see what’s going on around the house. If you have to, put smaller dogs on tables and couches so they can see the entirety of their new living space. Don’t be afraid to go heavy on the treats at first to reward for good behavior.

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

Author: Jessica Brody

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