4 Essential Tips for a First-Time Pet Owner

My family had talked about adopting a dog for a long time, but it was always in the casual “maybe someday” sense. That was until one day, when we simply wanted to take a look at some cute puppies. Warning: When you want to “just take a look” at puppies who are all leaping in their pens, you’re likely walking out with a new family member in your arms. First came petting their heads, then picking one up, then naming him Casey.

As my dog was learning all about his new family, we were learning all about our first pet. Here are a few tips and lessons I learned along the way.

Prepare your home for your new pet

Before you adopt a pet, puppy proof your home! I would never have thought that my dog would gnaw on a wicker basket, hoping to pull out a stick to play fetch with. Store away anything you don’t want to find under the claws or in the mouth of your pet. Cleaning chemicals should be kept in closets, and human foods that are toxic to some pets (like chocolate, grapes, raisins, or onions) should be stored out of reach. Nobody likes to see the feature article of their daily newspaper chewed up, so make sure all papers and magazines are out of reach too. And it’s a good idea to buy outlet covers to ensure that pets won’t claw or lick them.

Every pet has a different personality

Pouring over Pet Training 101 books is definitely a good idea, and the person or place you adopted your dog from may know about pet training programs in your area to ensure a smooth transition into your home. However, it’s important to remember that each pet has their own temperaments and quirks, just like people.

Our dog Casey is a laid back pooch who takes his sweet time on morning strolls. The second pup that we adopted, Yogi, came with a whole new temperament and set of quirks to learn. Every walk is a sprint, tugging on the leash with every intention of making record time. He’ll run toward other dogs , barking every step of the way. It goes to show that no two dogs are alike. Your friend’s dog may enjoy leisurely walks and long naps in the sun, while your new pup may be itching to see and sniff everything in sight as quickly as possible. Keeping an open mind about your pup’s temperament will let you really enjoy your new pet’s unique qualities.

You’ll need plenty of patience

Patience, patience, and patience is the key to raising a happy, well-behaved pet. Even when they’ve been fully trained for years, there will be an occasional mistake. It is perfectly normal to sometimes ask yourself, “Did I make the right decision in adopting this fur ball full of energy?” Sometimes, it may feel like your new pet just isn’t getting a handle on training. Just when you’ve finished cleaning his mess in the kitchen, you turn around to find a stack of freshly chewed papers in the living room. Again, patience, will get you through the times you feel like pulling your hair out. Having a furry best buddy by your side isn’t about perfection. Much like any other friendship, it is about patience, love, and enjoying each other’s company. While the training period was frustrating, at times, with much love and attention, Yogi grew into a very sweet, well-behaved, and still energetic dog.

They need more attention than you think they will

Puppies are full of energy and will find a way to entertain themselves, whether it’s exploring the off-limits closet or finding their way into the bathroom and TP-ing the house. It is understandable for your pup to be bursting with energy the minute you walk in the door after a long day. After all, they’ve been relaxing while you’ve been working. Your dog may be perfectly happy with cuddling up on the couch with you to watch TV. But if it’s clear that cuddle time is not what your dog had in mind, though, play time can be as easy as sitting down. throwing a chew toy, and letting the fur ball do all of the running.

If you’re planning to be away from home for an extended period of time, you may want to look into local dog walking services or even a doggy day camp.

In addition to exercise and attention, pets need regular baths, vaccines, and visits to the vet. Add reminders to your calendar so you can plan ahead and make the time for the important things your pet needs.

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