Your parents never wanted one. Your roommates were allergic to them. And your first apartment was so small that you couldn’t fit it in it. Yes, that’s right – you’ve never had a pet before. But now you’re getting one, which means you’re joining ranks with a hefty demographic. According to the National Pet Owners Survey, 68 percent of U.S. households (or 85 million) own a pet. That’s a lot of pets. However, if you’ve never owned one before, you might not even know which one to get or how to care for it. Here are some tips to get you started.
Which Pet Is Right for You?
“What pet do you even want?” That may be the first question in this whole process. Cat? Dog? Parakeet? Gerbil? Answer that question first. Then, figure out if that pet will work well with your space. If you have a large yard, you can let a St. Bernard romp around in the grass. If you’re in a 400-square-foot apartment, a cockatoo may be more your speed. No matter how cute it is, never get a pet that gives you allergies. Finally, budget it out. Pets can be quite expensive, so make sure you have some disposable income to pay for some trips to the vet.
Preparing Your Home for a New Pet
Next, start preparing your home for your pet’s arrival. Try looking at the world through its eyes. That might mean keeping drawers or cabinets closed so the pet can’t slip in or between them and get hurt. Also, secure doors and window screens so that your pet won’t take a spill by accident. Then, make it feel at home. Put a dog bed in the living room. Fold a towel in front of the heating radiator in the hallway where your kitten can curl up. Stock up on supplies – leashes, cat litter, and food and water bowls. Even think about getting premier pet food, not only so they eat well, but to improve their digestion and leave less messes for you to clean up later.
Acclimating a Pet to His New Home
One of the best steps to help your pet acclimate to your home is to remove odors that may still linger from any former pets. Wash the bed linens, put in an air purifier, vacuum the carpets, sweep and mop the hardwood, and use a steam-cleaner to get rid of smells that permeate deep into the fibers of your furniture. Adopting a foster pet, meanwhile, comes with challenges that are unique from adopting other pets. At first, limit it to just one room so that it gets used to the sensory perceptions around it. Also, try to be with it for the first few days that it’s adjusting to its new home. Afterward, set some ground rules. While this may seem strict, rescue pets often come from chaotic households and will likely thrive on a structured household.
Bonding with Your New Pet
No matter what species your pet is, the ways you can bond with it are pretty much the same. Of course, establishing a loving connection with your iguana or goldfish might be harder than it would with a golden retriever. However, in general, don’t think about it too much. If you love your pet, hang out with it. Throw a Frisbee with the dog. Take a nap with your cat. Get your whole family (including the pet) in the car for a weekend getaway. And then snuggle with it, feed it regularly, nuzzle it behind the ears, and make it feel like it’s part of your daily rhythm.
In some ways, getting a new pet can be daunting. You want to adapt your space to its needs while not neglecting your own. Take some time to figure out what’s a good fit for you, set down some rules, and then just enjoy your pet so that it makes you happy in return.
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