Are your children begging you for a furry new friend? Before you make the leap into pet ownership, you must prepare your house, your family, and yourself for this brand-new responsibility. Owning any kind of pet is a rewarding experience for everyone in the household, but it adds new considerations that you may not have had to make before. Whether you plan to get a dog, a cat, or something unique, this advice for adding a pet to the family for the first time will help you take the first steps to figure everything out.
Make Sure You and Your Family Are Ready
Pet ownership is more than just a lesson in responsibility or a novelty gift—it’s a commitment. Just like any decision around the house, you’ll need to have a major discussion about the impact a pet has on the entire home. You can easily code the conversation as a “what if” scenario if you plan to give the kids a puppy or kitty as a gift; however, if you haven’t had a proper discussion about the chores and requirements of an animal, your family will go into the task without the necessary mental readiness.
Remember that if you decide to give up on your pet and return them to a shelter or their prior foster, it doesn’t just affect you—it will traumatize the animal as well and encourage negative behaviors.
Get a Pet That You’re Not Too Busy For
Everyone may be spending more time at home now, but once travel is possible and remote work ends, the time that you thought your family had for pets may go out the window. Consider your family at its busiest, and then imagine adding a pet to the mix. If you think everyone will be able to pitch in to give the animal attention and care every day, then you’re ready.
If you love traveling, you’ll need to think about where your pet will go while you and your family are out of town. While cats are easy for a neighbor, friend, or family member to care for at your home while you’re away, a dog requires extra work. Weigh your options for pet sitters nearby, and research local dog boarding services now rather than later. The less vacation preparation work you need to do in the moment, the better.
Train Your Pets and Learn Their Language
Many problems that families have with pets can lessen with training. Look into dog trainers, and invest in their services if you want a puppy that behaves around the house and is less likely to damage your home or accidentally hurt your children. Cats often act out when they’re uncomfortable—if your children are impatient or overzealous with a cat, it may result in painful scratches or bites.
Make sure you and your children know when a cat or dog needs to play or when it’s playing too rough. Learning your pet’s behavior is one of the most difficult parts of pet ownership, but mastering it is essential for adding a pet to the family for the first time.