Bringing a pet home, like a cat or a dog, is not a decision you should take lightly. These are living creatures, first of all, but secondly, they live over a decade. These pets are a commitment, and they will become a part of the family. If you only want a pet because it is cute as a baby, then stop. Already too many poor, innocent animals are abandoned. They are thrown into the trash, left outside in the cold, starved, and abused. This happens even when the nicest person you know adopts a pet when they aren’t ready. Another common issue occurs when families move, and they leave their pet behind for whatever reason. Having a pet is a huge commitment, which is why you need to go through this guide to help you decide whether you are ready for one, and what kind of pet would fit into your life:
- Is Anyone Allergic?
How horrible would it be if you take a pet home, only to later discover that your son is allergic to it and cannot be around your new family member? The next action is usually to give away or abandon the new pet in question, which means an innocent baby is off on its own. It may be fine if you can simply return it to the breeders, but if the allergy only becomes apparent months after, you will find you likely no longer have that option. Avoid this dilemma entirely and pet-sit before you bring a new pet into your home. That way you can get a taste of what taking care of the cat or dog will be like, and you’ll have a longer period where you can determine if anyone in your home has allergies.
Note: There are studies that show that children who grow up with pets are less likely to develop allergies later in life, which can be a very good thing.
- How Much Space Do You Have?
Once you have determined that no one in your household will be allergic to your new pet (remember, long-haired, and short-haired animals, might have a different effect), you need to consider your space. If you have a large property, the size of the animal you get might not matter. If you live in a small space like an apartment, however, you need to get an animal like a cat or small dog. Cats can be very content indoors, and are very self-sufficient, whereas small dogs can get the exercise that they need from a short walk around the neighborhood. Larger dogs, on the other hand, will need to run.
- How Much Time Do You Have?
Busy people will find dogs far too much commitment to comfortably handle. Thankfully, cats can be great companions who also do not need the care and attention that dogs do. Be realistic with how busy your schedule is. It can be easy to say that you will wake up extra early to take your dog for a walk, but actually doing it is another matter. Dogs that don’t get the exercise that they need can become very naughty, because they have a lot of pent-up energy that they cannot handle.
- What Are Your Finances Like?
Dogs and cats both have significant costs over their lifetimes. If you are severely strapped for cash, hold off on getting a pet. If, on the other hand, you can afford the upkeep and veterinary bills that come with owning a pet, go for it. Research costs beforehand so you can be better prepared.
- Why Do You Want a Pet?
This question is to help you choose the breed (and even species). What do you want out of owning a pet? Do you want another child? Do you want a fuzzy companion? Do you want someone to go out with you when you exercise, or do you simply want a living creature in your home? You also likely have a preference. All these questions add up to what you are looking for in a pet, which leads to the next step.
- What Personality Do You Want?
Dog breeds, in particular, have different personalities. That is why you must always do your research beforehand, and not choose a pet based on looks alone. West Highland White Terriers, for instance, are commonly mistaken for lap dogs, when in actuality they were bred as hunting dogs, and therefore need ample exercise. Once you know the kind of personality you want, and what you want out of owning a pet, you can then make an informed decision about the breed that you want.
- Bringing Your Pet Home
When you have chosen your breed, and have found the puppy or kitten (or an adopted adult) that is right for you, it is time to bring them home. The first order of business is buying items to entertain your new pet, to feed them, and a place for them to sleep. If you want to save money (and resources) buy items based on the adult’s needs, not based on the baby’s. This means choosing the Modkat litter box based on the breed, or the size of the dog bed based on the adult’s size.
Once they are home, it will be time to start training them. Cats need much less training than dogs do, but it is still possible to train them. Dogs, on the other hand, need training so they behave accordingly. They can be very loyal and very helpful, but you need to be consistent and dedicated to teaching them the behaviors that you want.
Your new pet will be a new family member. They should be loved, cared for, and never abandoned. Being a responsible pet owner is the first step to helping animals live an abuse-free life, simply by not perpetuating the cycle. Do your research, know how to take care of your new pet. That way you know you are prepared and can welcome your new pet into the family.