A Trusting Relationship: Advice for First-Time Dog Owners

Getting a new pet is a lot of fun and a positive lifestyle decision for people who understand the responsibility and what it means to care for an animal. There’s a lot more to it than picking out any dog or cat that strikes your fancy. You need to be well-prepared and understand what your pet needs from you. Too often, people make a hasty, uninformed decision and end up getting into something they hadn’t bargained for – an unfortunate situation for an animal, because a bad pet-and-human fit will make everyone unhappy and can be tragic for the animal. Take the time to think through what owning a dog or cat will mean, and in what ways it will change your life.

Know your breeds

Selecting the right breed for you and your family is very important (though it’s probably more relevant to dog owners). Would-be dog owners sometimes select a breed because they believe it fits their personality or makes some kind of personal statement about them. But running out and buying a Rottweiler or Pit Bull because it matches your tattoo may not be a good idea if you have young, rambunctious children or live in a small apartment with little or no room inside or out for a large, active dog.

Spend some time online researching the characteristics and behavioral tendencies of different breeds. There’s no substitute for good information, because each breed has its own distinctive needs and personality.

Think carefully about your living situation. Do you spend a lot of time at work or travel a great deal? If so, a cat may be the best choice. If you or another member of the family suffers from allergies, it may be wise not to bring home a long-haired pet. Remember, this needs to be a sustainable, long-term relationship that will make everyone happy. Your decision-making process should reflect that.

Preparing for a new family member

Moving into a new living environment is a big deal for an animal. Dogs and cats are creatures of habit – sudden change is disruptive and disorienting to them. A new pet – especially a rescue – is likely to be very anxious upon moving into unfamiliar surroundings, so the more you can do to make your new 4-legged friend feel comfortable and welcome, the easier this difficult transition will be.

Establish a space that’s just for him, which should include a pet bed, food and water dish, and toys. Set aside plenty of time to bond with your new pet when he comes home. Take him for a walk around the yard, and let him do plenty of sniffing and exploring around the yard as well as inside. Always be sure to pick up small, sharp items that could get stepped on or swallowed by a curious kitten or puppy.

The right equipment

Dogs leave behind plenty of residue in the form of fur, which accumulates quickly on furniture, carpeting, in air vents and along baseboards. You’ll need the right household tools, including a high-powered vacuum cleaner with plenty of attachments that let you vacuum underneath and behind furniture and other hard-to-reach places. A handheld vacuum is another useful and versatile appliance for animals that leave plenty of fur balls in their wake. The right vacuuming equipment is especially important for anyone who’s allergic to pet dander or dust mites, as are air purifiers, another effective way of keeping your environment free of allergens. Do your homework and research the best appliances for people with pets – a site with customer reviews on small appliances can be a huge help.

As a pet owner, you’re responsible for keeping your furry friend safe, healthy and happy. Pay careful attention to doors and windows, which should be kept closed and locked, and be vigilant about harmful food items and objects, which must be kept picked up and out of reach.

Guest post by Jessica Brody of OurBestFriends.pet.

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