While many people grow up with animals in their home, for some, pet ownership comes with adulthood. It’s an exciting time, to finally welcome a pet into your life. But it can also come with a slew of new responsibilities and life lessons. Here are 10 things I learned as a first-time pet owner:
In your life pre-pet, you may have gotten into routines of leaving clothes on the floor and food near the edges of counters. But once you have a pet, your home or apartment will need to be pet-proof. Whether you have a puppy who wants to get into everything or a senior dog who needs clear pathways for navigation, pet-proofing your space will help your new furry companion live a much easier, safer and more enjoyable life.
Adopting Helps Countless Animals
There are a variety of different ways you can become a first-time pet owner. One of the most helpful is to consider adopting your pet from a shelter or rescue organization. There are a seemingly endless number of pets in need of a good home, many of whom have suffered difficult lives. If you are flexible on the kind of breed--or breed mix--you get, adopting could be the way to go.
Not all Dog Food is Created Equal
Different dogs will need different nutrition to be their healthiest. The best way to know which pet food is right for you is to speak with your veterinarian. They will have a recommendation based on your dog’s unique needs and state of health, so you can trust your pup is well fed.
Being Prepared Makes a Difference
When you’re living on your own or with a human partner, it’s okay sometimes to play things by ear and see how they turn out. But, once you have a pet, being prepared is key. I learned the importance of being prepared with my dog, Buddy. Instead of having to pay a high vet bill out of pocket, I pay the vet monthly so that I can bring him in whenever something seems wrong. Since then, I’ve also invested in a home protection plan for my house and cell phone insurance for my iPhone.
Pets are a Financial Commitment
Everyone knows just how loving a pet can be. But, what they might not talk about is how expensive they are as well! While this shouldn’t be a reason to avoid getting a pet, you should think realistically about whether your current budget will allow you to spend money on meeting and exceeding all of your dog’s needs, each month.
Training is Important--For You and Your Dog
When you and your pet are working together, life can be a breeze. But if your furry companion has a mind of his own and refuses to listen, training might be able to help. When you find a good trainer, you’ll learn how to effectively interact with your dog, so that you avoid frustration and increase positive communication. Plus, you’ll be able to take your dog out in public, without causing a scene!
Your Lifestyle Should Be Considered
All pets require different amounts of attention and activity levels. Consider your lifestyle when you are considering which type of pet makes the most sense for your situation. For example, if you know you want to go on long runs with your dog, make sure the breed you choose is up for the activity!
There’s a Sneaky Benefit to Walks
Dog owners everywhere are outside often two to three times a day with their furry friend. And while these walks may be a necessity for your pet (to get out energy and keep them healthy), they also have a sneaky benefit for you. You’ll spend more time outdoors, enjoying and experiencing the weather, all year round.
Sometimes You’ll Need to Call in Backup
Many first-time pet parents are single pet parents as well. This can be a bit of a challenge, especially if your work schedule takes you out of your home or out of town on a regular basis. If this is the case, don’t be afraid to call in backup. A dog walker, doggie daycare or overnight pet sitter will make your life so much easier. A family member may be willing to do all of this for you, but if not, there are several pet care sites where you can find trusted sitters in your area.
True Love is Real
The love that your pet will show you is like none other. It’s a beautiful reminder that true love has no strings attached, and shows up, day in and day out. When you have this experience with your dog, it may just influence how you deal with everyone else in your life.
Pet ownership is a great way to improve your life and the life of another animal! And if it’s your first time, rest assured that you are in for an amazing ride.